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Kingman solar plant powered by SOLON systems and modules

July 8, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Solar Blog | No comment

 

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SOLON Corporation has announced an agreement with UniSource Energy Services (UES) that will bring a 1.22 megawatt (MW) solar system to Kingman, Arizona. Powered by SOLON systems and modules, the plant will provide a faster, more cost-effective way for UES to integrate solar power into its renewable energy portfolio for Kingman residents.

UES will own and operate the system on six acres owned by the Kingman Unified School District (KUSD) behind La Senita Elementary School. It will be the largest single physical photovoltaic (PV) system on school property in the state of Arizona. SOLON is leading the engineering, procurement and construction services.

For the Kingman system, SOLON is providing a comprehensive level of products, development and support. In total, the system will feature six of SOLON’s single-axis trackers, utilizing more than 5,000 UL-certified 235-watt solar modules, which are manufactured at the company’s Tucson headquarters. To help ensure the plant’s performance and efficiency, the company is also providing its SCADA system, which enables remote control and monitoring.

‚ÄúAs a Tucson-based company, SOLON Corporation takes great pride in bringing clean, affordable solar energy to neighboring Arizona communities,‚ÄĚ said Dan Alcombright, Chief Executive Officer and President of North America for SOLON. ‚ÄúLa Senita is a testament to Kingman‚Äôs commitment to renewable energy and the success of partnerships between solar providers, utilities and schools.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúIn addition to helping UES meet its renewable energy goals, this system will provide an estimated $1 million to $1.5 million impact on the local economy,‚ÄĚ said Carmine Tilghman, Director of Renewable Resources for UES and its parent company, UniSource Energy Corporation (NYSE: UNS). ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre grateful that KUSD and La Senita Elementary School share our enthusiasm for this project, and we look forward to developing similar partnerships in the future as we expand our renewable energy resources.‚ÄĚ

Local Mohave County contractors will assist in the installation of the system. Construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2011.

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Heraeus Photovoltaic Business Unit completes construction of a new Singapore facility

July 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Solar Blog | No comment

 

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Heraeus has more than tripled its technical staff, but aims to continue this expansion throughout 2011 as they look to hire additional employees this year.

The Heraeus Photovoltaic Business Unit has announced it has completed construction in Singapore of a new facility for the production of silver metallization paste used in crystalline solar cell applications. The site, which includes Manufacturing, RD, Sales and Technical Service, began operations in June 2011.

The RD lab in Singapore was recently completed in early July with qualification samples to be released to customers soon. An official opening ceremony for the Singapore facility is scheduled for November 2011.

In December 2010, RD personnel as well as Production personnel were hired and received full-time training at the U.S. facility. The qualified staff returned to Singapore to work at the new site located in Tuas.

‚ÄúThis new site was built primarily to expand production capacity into the Asian market, as well as to create our third leg of our global RD footprint,‚ÄĚ said Andy London, Vice President of Heraeus Materials Technology LLC in West Conshohocken. ‚ÄúIn the last three years the industry has moved to Asia and we want to remain dynamic and responsive to these industry changes.‚ÄĚ

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Conergy’s Head of Technology Speaking at InterSolar North America about Photovoltaic Manufacturing Processes

July 8, 2011 at 2:00 am | Solar Blog | No comment

 

Dr. Karl Heinz Kuesters, Head of Technology at Conergy’s solar module manufacturing factory in Germany, will be presenting in a session about performance enhancement and cost reduction in Silicon based cell and module technology at the InterSolar North America conference. As Head of Technology and overseeing Conergy’s state-of-the-art, fully-automated and vertically-integrated manufacturing facility, Mr. Kuesters has unique insight into the development of manufacturing processes that optimize technology and reduce costs. 

Dr. Kuesters presentation will focus on the main technology trends, performance enhancement measures, the effects of integration in the manufacturing process and the tradeoffs between system efficiency and system cost. Mr. Kuesters said, ‚ÄúCost reduction in the production of silicon based modules, both in raw material and in the manufacturing process, is a growing trend. While it is important to offer competitively priced products, it can not be done at the expense of quality and durability. At Conergy, we use integrated manufacturing and highly-automated systems to ensure quality in the race for cost reduction.‚ÄĚ Mr. Kuesters will be speaking Tuesday, July 12th at 2:00 PM at the InterSolar NA conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Responsible for technology development at Conergy, Dr. Kuesters develops higher-efficiency, lower-cost cell and module technology, manages product development, technology integration and RD initiatives in cooperation with external institutes and funding programs.

Conergy’s state-of-the-art, vertically-integrated and fully-automated manufacturing plant in Frankfurt (Oder) was launched in 2007. The plant manufactures solar modules from the silicon ingot stage to a finished module, which provides Conergy improved quality control and insight into module optimization. This insight into full system optimization, allowed Conergy to develop the 3-busbar cell design, which optimizes the entire module, compared to the 2-busbar cell design which optimizes the cell’s efficiency, but decreases the module’s yield. This innovation is being adopted in the industry. Producing the PowerPlus, Conergy’s premium solar energy module, the 250 Megawatt manufacturing facility includes 24 wafer saws, 4 cell production lines and 5 module production lines. Due to increased quality controls, high-quality components and lack of human-error, the Conergy PowerPlus solar module offers increased durability and lifetime yield.

About Conergy North America
Around the world, only Conergy delivers solar energy systems from a single source. As a system manufacturer, Conergy produces all components for a solar installation and offers all services under one roof. With its modules, inverters and mounting systems, the solar expert creates Conergy System Technology, which is efficient and synchronized solar energy systems for private or commercial rooftops, as well as for multi-Megawatt Parks.

Conergy System Sales brings Conergy premium products to nearly 40 countries. The solar expert supports homeowners, installers, wholesalers and investors in their efforts to ‚Äúgo solar‚ÄĚ through deep-rooted local operations in 40 countries. With sales activities on five continents, Conergy has close relationships with all its customers. Listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange, Conergy employs more than 1,700 people worldwide. Since Conergy‚Äôs founding in 1998, it has produced and sold more than 1.5 GW of clean solar power.

Conergy‚Äôs Solar Large Projects Group delivers a ‚ÄúWorry-Free Package‚ÄĚ for Conergy solar installations. Conergy‚Äôs experts manage the planning and financing, project installation and implementation, system monitoring, operation and on-going maintenance for turn-key solar projects to achieve maximum performance.

Through its acquisition of well-established local companies, Conergy began operating as a distributor and project developer in North America in 2005 and currently has five offices, four warehouses and three production sites in the region. Conergy manufacturers mounting systems in Sacramento, CA. In Ontario, Canada Conergy produces modules and mounting systems that meet local content requirements for the Provincial FIT. Conergy offers innovative products and tailored services to their North America network of system integrators and project developers.Through these activities, Conergy maintains expert knowledge about local market conditions and requirements.

 

El Hierro: The World’s First Renewable Energy Island… or is It?

July 8, 2011 at 12:00 am | Solar Blog | No comment

 

el hierro, sustainable design, renewable energy island, green design, solar power, wind power, renewable energy, alternative energy, world's first green energy island, solar thermal, self-sufficient island, samso

El Hierro, the smallest and southern-most island of the Canaries, made headlines recently after it announced plans to become the world‚Äôs first island to eradicate its carbon footprint and run completely off 100% renewable energy sources. The Huffington Post reported how El Hierro will be powered by an 11.5 MW wind farm, 11.3 MW of hydroelectric power and a whole bunch of solar thermal collectors and grid-connected photovoltaics. The fact that oil will no longer be transported to this remote location will offset 18,200 tons of carbon dioxide alone. These are undeniably impressive statistics and the project represents a wonderful opportunity for Swiss-Swedish power giant, ABB. Plans call for this ambitious project to be completed by the end of 2011 and will cost $87 million. However there is one problem with the claim that El Hierro is ‚Äúthe world‚Äôs first renewable energy island‚ÄĚ ‚Äď it isn‚Äôt.



el hierro, sustainable design, renewable energy island, green design, solar power, wind power, renewable energy, alternative energy, world's first green energy island, solar thermal, self-sufficient island, samsoImage by Tiffany Farrant Infographic and Web Design

Back in November 2009 I wrote about the small Danish island of Sams√ł, 15km off the Jutland Peninsula. In 1997, Sams√ł won a government competition to become a model renewable energy community. Since then, 21 wind turbines have been built on Sams√ł ‚Äď an island 48 km long and 24 km wide with a population of approximately 4000. Ten were built on a sandbank off the island‚Äôs south coast and another 11 dotted all over the island, and the island has long been considered one of the most successful green energy projects to have launched since environmentalists started raising the alarm about climate change around thirty years ago. Alongside the turbines, the houses in Sams√ł‚Äôs 22 villages are heated by power plants powered by furnaces fired by wood chips and straw and farms of man-sized solar panels in fields kept trim by herds of sheep.

But this takes nothing away from what the people of El Hierro, with a population of more than double that of Sams√ł‚Äôs, are set to achieve. Projects like these must be celebrated. El Hierro and Sams√ł are the places where the seeds of our energy future are being sewn. Although it is the financial backing and expertise of private companies like ABB that make these projects a practical reality, it is the foresight and ambition of environmentalists and the will of the people of places such as El Hierro and Sams√ł that make them possible in the first instance.

Via Huffington Post

Photos by Jose Mesa







 

Schneider Electric to supply largest North American solar inverter order in its history

July 7, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Solar Blog | No comment

 

The award by a repeat customer highlights Schneider Electric’s inverter performance in utility and large scale ground-mount photovoltaic (PV) installations.

‚ÄúThe extensive experience we have in the field, in a broad variety of operating environments, is one of the primary reasons for our company’s continued success and the satisfaction of our customers,‚ÄĚ said Rudy Wodrich, Commercial Vice President, Americas. ‚ÄúThis order is a further demonstration of Schneider Electric’s leadership in PV inverters and solutions.‚ÄĚ

About Schneider Electric

As a global specialist in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, Schneider Electric offers integrated solutions across multiple market segments, including leadership positions in energy and infrastructure, industrial processes, building automation, and data centres/networks, as well as a broad presence in residential applications. Focused on making energy safe, reliable, and efficient, the company’s 110,000 plus employees achieved sales of 19.6 billion euros in 2010, through an active commitment to help individuals and organizations ‚ÄúMake the most of their energy.‚ÄĚ

www.schneider-electric.com

 

Schneider Electric and the Schneider Electric logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Schneider Electric.

 

Inexpensive Grid Stability Solutions

July 7, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Solar Blog | No comment

 

A few years ago, I put together some graphs to show this as dramatically as possible.  I surveyed the available data on energy storage and other grid integration technologies for the costs of existing installations, and calculated average cost per installed kW (power), per installed kWh (energy) and round trip efficiency (the percent of energy lost through round-trip charging and discharging.)

The results are shown in the graph below.  Keep in mind that the data is a few years old at this point, and all numbers are approximate, since they are culled from a variety of different sources.  The graph shown is on a log-log scale, so a technology at the top of the graph is 10 times cheaper when it comes to delivering power to the grid than a technology on the horizontal line. A technology at the far right is 100 times cheaper for storing energy than a technology on the vertical line.

The most cost-effective technologies are closer to the upper right hand corner of the graph, and have relatively large bubbles (high round trip efficiency.)  

Large Scale Energy Storage Technologies

The most talked-about energy storage technologies, Pumped Hydropower [PHES], Compressed Air Energy Storage [CAES], and molten salt thermal storage in conjunction with Concentrating Solar Power [CSP-Tower] can clearly be seen to outperform both batteries and flow batteries for energy storage applications.  Note that the numbers are approximate.  PHES is shown on my graph as slightly less viable than CAES, but the balance of opinion favors the economics of PHES.  The CAES bubble may overstate the viability of that technology: there are only two operational CAES plants, which leads to considerable uncertainly in the construction costs for future plants.  Similarly, the Economics of PHES may be understated.  Each Pumped Hydro site is unique and has its own economics, and the best sites are likely to be considerably better than shown.  Such sites will have existing reservoirs that can be raised and lowered at will to reflect current electricity supply imbalances.  I discuss PHES in more detail here.

Hydrogen [H2], flow batteries, and conventional batteries are simply too expensive to be viable as an energy storage medium except in situations such as remote power, where transmission, demand response, and PHES or thermal storage are impractical.  While the economics of large scale energy storage for Hydrogen compare well with those of molten salt thermal storage, the high cost of fuel cells makes hydrogen storage nearly useless as a power resource, and the low round trip efficiency means that much energy is lost transforming electricity back and forth in to hydrogen.  Large hydrogen tanks are relatively inexpensive to build, but filling and emptying those tanks is too slow a process to be practical as a grid based storage solution.

Yet all these solutions pale in comparison to the virtual energy storage provided by high voltage transmission.  When a region has excess electricity, it usually makes much more sense to sell it to a neighboring region that can use it than try to store the electricity locally.  Hours or months later, the same transmission line can be used to re-import the power when relative prices in the two regions reverse, making a transmission line to a neighboring region act as if it were a connection to a battery with infinite capacity.

Grid Stability (Power) Technologies

While the energy storage technologies on the right side of the graph are good for smoothing out long term imbalances between electricity supply and demand, short-term variations in supply and demand are best addressed by the cheap power resources towards the top of the graph.  The quicker the fluctuations that need to be smoothed, the more important it is that the technology be able to absorb or deliver power quickly, and the less important it is that a large amount of energy be stored for extended periods of time.  

Three highly effective technologies for producing quick bursts of high power but without much energy storage capacity are flywheels (currently in their earliest stages of deployment by Beacon Power (BCON), Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage [SMES] a technology provided by American Superconductor (AMSC) that has been shown to be able to maintain grid stability when events such as lightning strikes would otherwise overload the grid with large, sharp jolts of power, and ultra-capacitors such as those provided by Maxwell Technologies (MXWL) which are generally too expensive for grid based applications, but are beginning to find a niche in vehicles.  These technologies are not shown on the graph because I would need to expand the vertical axis multiple orders of magnitude upwards.

Among established technologies, Lithium-Ion [Li-ion], Nickel-Metal Hydride [NiMH] and Lead-Acid [PbA] batteries perform acceptably in remote grid stability applications where few other options exist, but all are eclipsed by the low cost and effectiveness of Demand Response. Demand Response is a suite of technologies which allow the utility to ask energy users to reduce their energy usage when the utility’s generation capacity has trouble meeting current demand.¬† Like transmission, but unlike batteries, flow batteries, thermal storage, PHES, or CAES, the electricity storage provided by demand response technologies is virtual: when a customer temporarily turns up the thermostat in response to a signal from the utility, the use of energy to cool the building is delayed until after the event when the customer drops the thermostat back to its usual setting.¬† This avoids the cost of physical electricity storage, and makes Demand Response the most economical way to meet short-term spikes in energy demand (such as on hot summer days when air conditioning demand is high) and short term supply shortfalls, such as when¬†power plants fail to come online at the scheduled time, or when power output suddenly drops.

The Bonneville Power Association’s Hydropower Surplus

Recently, a heavy snow pack and a quick melt have caused the Bonneville Power Association (BPA) to shut down wind power generation for several hours each night in the Colombia Gorge.¬† This has¬†wind farm owners (who stand to lose Federal tax credits for energy production) heading to court.¬† BPA claims shutting wind farms is necessary, but wind farm owners claim that two inexpensive solutions exist to deal with the excess power: Unused transmission capacity to Canada and Southern California, and the possibility of paying customers to shift their energy consumption from daytime to nighttime hours.¬† Both these solutions would cost BPA money, while their current approach of refusing to accept wind power at night is free.¬† This is why BPA chose not to honor its contracts with wind farms. While this makes economic sense for BPA, it sets a bad precedent because it was poor planning on BPA’s part to sign such contracts in the first place.¬† Should wind farm owners have to bear the financial consequences of BPA’s bad planning?¬† If they had known that BPA would not honor those contracts, they might have spent their capital in other regions of the country where the most productive season for wind does not correspond with the most productive season for hydropower.

In my opinion, this ruckus is more about industry players jockeying for position, than about wind being too unstable for the grid or incompatible with salmon.  Both Demand-Response and Transmission are existing, cheap ways to deal with the potential power surplus, and no matter what the courts rule, Demand Response and High Voltage Transmission are both key in allowing wind to achieve its full economic and development potential.  In fact,  Tim Healy, CEO of Demand-Response firm EnerNOC in a recent interview, said his firm has been helping BPA shed some excess power duing nighttime hours by turning some of their customers equipment on when it might otherwise be off.

Investments

I’ve written extensively about transmission stocks in my “Strong Grid” series.¬† I included the two exchange-traded Demand Response companies, EnerNOC (ENOC), and¬†Comverge (COMV) in my recent list of Ten Clean Energy Stocks I’d Buy Now, because their prices are looking very attractive.¬† I’ve already written about World Energy Solutions (XWES), and I spoke with EnerNOC CEO Tim Healy about his company last week in preparation for a this article.¬† I plan to follow that with articles about Comverge, and EnergyConnect (ECNG.OB), an OTC-traded demand-response provider.

This article was originally published on AltEnergyStocks.com and was reprinted with permission.

DISCLOSURE: Long COMV, ENOC, BCON.

DISCLAIMER: Past performance is not a guarantee or a reliable indicator of future results.  This article contains the current opinions of the author and such opinions are subject to change without notice.  This article has been distributed for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product.  Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed.

 

Power from the air: Device captures ambient electromagnetic energy to drive small electronic devices

July 7, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Solar Blog | No comment

 

ScienceDaily (July 8, 2011) ¬ó Researchers have discovered a way to capture and harness energy transmitted by such sources as radio and television transmitters, cell phone networks and satellite communications systems. By scavenging this ambient energy from the air around us, the technique could provide a new way to power networks of wireless sensors, microprocessors and communications chips.

“There is a large amount of electromagnetic energy all around us, but nobody has been able to tap into it,” said Manos Tentzeris, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering who is leading the research. “We are using an ultra-wideband antenna that lets us exploit a variety of signals in different frequency ranges, giving us greatly increased power-gathering capability.”

Tentzeris and his team are using inkjet printers to combine sensors, antennas and energy scavenging capabilities on paper or flexible polymers. The resulting self powered wireless sensors could be used for chemical, biological, heat and stress sensing for defense and industry; radio frequency identification (RFID) tagging for manufacturing and shipping, and monitoring tasks in many fields including communications and power usage.

A presentation on this energy scavenging technology was given July 6 at the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Symposium in Spokane, Wash. The discovery is based on research supported by multiple sponsors, including the National Science Foundation, the Federal Highway Administration and Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

Communications devices transmit energy in many different frequency ranges, or bands. The team’s scavenging devices can capture this energy, convert it from AC to DC, and then store it in capacitors and batteries. The scavenging technology can take advantage presently of frequencies from FM radio to radar, a range spanning 100 megahertz (MHz) to 15 gigahertz (GHz) or higher.

Scavenging experiments utilizing TV bands have already yielded power amounting to hundreds of microwatts, and multi-band systems are expected to generate one milliwatt or more. That amount of power is enough to operate many small electronic devices, including a variety of sensors and microprocessors.

And by combining energy scavenging technology with supercapacitors and cycled operation, the Georgia Tech team expects to power devices requiring above 50 milliwatts. In this approach, energy builds up in a battery-like supercapacitor and is utilized when the required power level is reached.

The researchers have already successfully operated a temperature sensor using electromagnetic energy captured from a television station that was half a kilometer distant. They are preparing another demonstration in which a microprocessor-based microcontroller would be activated simply by holding it in the air.

Exploiting a range of electromagnetic bands increases the dependability of energy scavenging devices, explained Tentzeris, who is also a faculty researcher in the Georgia Electronic Design Center at Georgia Tech. If one frequency range fades temporarily due to usage variations, the system can still exploit other frequencies.

The scavenging device could be used by itself or in tandem with other generating technologies. For example, scavenged energy could assist a solar element to charge a battery during the day. At night, when solar cells don’t provide power, scavenged energy would continue to increase the battery charge or would prevent discharging.

Utilizing ambient electromagnetic energy could also provide a form of system backup. If a battery or a solar-collector/battery package failed completely, scavenged energy could allow the system to transmit a wireless distress signal while also potentially maintaining critical functionalities.

The researchers are utilizing inkjet technology to print these energy scavenging devices on paper or flexible paper-like polymers — a technique they already using to produce sensors and antennas. The result would be paper-based wireless sensors that are self powered, low cost and able to function independently almost anywhere.

To print electrical components and circuits, the Georgia Tech researchers use a standard materials inkjet printer. However, they add what Tentzeris calls “a unique in house recipe” containing silver nanoparticles and/or other nanoparticles in an emulsion. This approach enables the team to print not only RF components and circuits, but also novel sensing devices based on such nanomaterials as carbon nanotubes.

When Tentzeris and his research group began inkjet printing of antennas in 2006, the paper-based circuits only functioned at frequencies of 100 or 200 MHz, recalled Rushi Vyas, a graduate student who is working with Tentzeris and graduate student Vasileios Lakafosis on several projects.

“We can now print circuits that are capable of functioning at up to 15 GHz — 60 GHz if we print on a polymer,” Vyas said. “So we have seen a frequency operation improvement of two orders of magnitude.”

The researchers believe that self-powered, wireless paper-based sensors will soon be widely available at very low cost. The resulting proliferation of autonomous, inexpensive sensors could be used for applications that include:

  • Airport security: Airports have both multiple security concerns and vast amounts of available ambient energy from radar and communications sources. These dual factors make them a natural environment for large numbers of wireless sensors capable of detecting potential threats such as explosives or smuggled nuclear material.
  • Energy savings: Self-powered wireless sensing devices placed throughout a home could provide continuous monitoring of temperature and humidity conditions, leading to highly significant savings on heating and air conditioning costs. And unlike many of today’s sensing devices, environmentally friendly paper-based sensors would degrade quickly in landfills.
  • Structural integrity: Paper or polymer-based sensors could be placed throughout various types of structures to monitor stress. Self powered sensors on buildings, bridges or aircraft could quietly watch for problems, perhaps for many years, and then transmit a signal when they detected an unusual condition.
  • Food and perishable material storage and quality monitoring: Inexpensive sensors on foods could scan for chemicals that indicate spoilage and send out an early warning if they encountered problems.
  • Wearable bio-monitoring devices: This emerging wireless technology could become widely used for autonomous observation of patient medical issues.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Georgia Institute of Technology Research News, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.


Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

 

Global investments in green energy up nearly a third to $211 billion

July 7, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Solar Blog | No comment

 

ScienceDaily (July 7, 2011) ¬ó Wind farms in China and small-scale solar panels on rooftops in Europe were largely responsible for last year’s 32% rise in green energy investments worldwide according to the latest annual report on renewable energy investment trends issued by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Last year, investors pumped a record $211 billion into renewables — about one-third more than the $160 billion invested in 2009, and a 540% rise since 2004.

For the first time, developing economies overtook developed ones in terms of “financial new investment”–spending on utility-scale renewable energy projects and provision of equity capital for renewable energy companies.

On this measure, $72 billion was invested in developing countries vs. $70 billion in developed economies, which contrasts with 2004, when financial new investments in developing countries were about one quarter of those in developed countries.

The report, Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2011, has been prepared for UNEP by London-based Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

It was launched July 7 by UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and Udo Steffens, President and CEO of the Frankfurt School of Finance Management as it was also announced that a new UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate Sustainable Energy Finance is being inaugurated at the Frankfurt School.

China, with $48.9 billion in financial new investment in renewables (up 28%), was the world leader in 2010.

However, other parts of the emerging world also showed strong growth:

South and Central America: up 39% to $13.1 billion; Middle East and Africa: up 104% to $5 billion; India: up 25% to $3.8 billion, and Asian developing countries excluding China and India: up 31% to $4 billion.

Another positive development, highlighted in the report with implications for long-term clean energy developments, was government research and development. That category of investment climbed over 120 per cent to well over $5 billion.

Mr. Steiner said: “The continuing growth in this core segment of the Green Economy is not happening by chance. The combination of government target-setting, policy support and stimulus funds is underpinning the renewable industry’s rise and bringing the much needed transformation of our global energy system within reach.”

“The UN climate convention meeting in Durban later in the year, followed by the Rio+20 summit in Brazil in 2012, offer key opportunities to accelerate and scale-up this positive transition to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication,” he added.

“The finance industry is still recovering from the recent financial crisis,” adds Udo Steffens, President of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. “The fact that the industry remains heavily committed to renewables demonstrates its strong belief in the prospects of sustainable energy investments. “

“The investment activity in the developing world is not only leading to innovations in renewable energy technologies. Further more, it will open up new markets as first mover investors are facilitating a range of new business models and support entrepreneurship in the developing world,” explains Udo Steffens.

The report points out that not all areas enjoyed positive growth in 2010: there was a decline of 22% to $35.2 billion in new financial investment in large-scale renewable energy in Europe in 2010. But this was more than made up for by a surge in small-scale project installation, predominantly rooftop solar.

Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: “Europe’s small-scale solar energy boom owed much to feed-in tariffs, particularly in Germany, combined with a sharp fall in the cost of photovoltaic (PV) modules.”

Investments in Germany in “small distributed capacity” rose 132% to $34 billion, in Italy they rose 59% to $5.5 billion, France up 150% to $2.7 billion, and the Czech Republic up 163% to $2.3 billion.

The price of PV modules per megawatt has fallen 60% since mid-2008, making solar power far more competitive in a number of sunny countries.

By the end of 2010, many countries were rushing to make their PV tariffs less generous. Indeed, Spain and the Czech Republic both moving to make retroactive cuts in feed-in tariff levels for already-operating projects “damaged investor confidence,” the report says. “Other governments, such as those of Germany and Italy, announced reductions in tariffs for new projects — logical steps to reflect sharp falls in technology costs.”

Nevertheless the small-scale solar market is likely to stay strong in 2011, the report suggests.

Further drops in costs for solar, wind and other technologies lie ahead, the report says, posing a growing threat to the dominance of fossil-fuel generation sources in the next few years.

Throughout the last decade, wind was the most mature renewable energy technology and enjoyed an apparently unassailable lead over its rival power sources.

Wind turbine prices have fallen 18% per megawatt in the last two years, reflecting, as with solar, fierce competition in the supply chain.

In 2010, wind continued to dominate in terms of financial new investment in large scale renewables, with $94.7 billion (up 30% from 2009). However, when investments in small scale projects are added in solar is catching up, with $86 billion in 2010, up 52% on the previous year. With $11 billion invested, biomass and waste-to-energy come in third in front of biofuels, which boomed at $20.4 billion in 2006, but fell off dramatically — to $5.5 billion last year.

The sharpest percentage jumps in overall investment were seen in small-scale projects — up 91% year-on-year at $60 billion, and in government-funded research and development, up 121% at $5.3 billion, as more of the “green stimulus” funds promised after the financial crisis arrived in the sector.

Two areas of investment showed a fall in 2010 compared to 2009: corporate research, development and deployment (down 12% at $3.3 billion, as companies retrenched in the face of economic hard times) and provision of expansion capital for renewable energy companies by private equity funds (down 1% to $3.1 billion).

Clean energy share prices fell in 2010, with the WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index (NEX) down 14.6%, under-performing wider stock market indices by more than 20%. This showing reflected investor concerns about industry over-capacity, cutbacks in subsidy programs and competition from power stations burning cheap natural gas.

Acquisition activity in renewable energy, representing money changing hands rather than new investment, fell from $66 billion in 2009 to $58 billion in 2010. The two largest categories of MA — corporate takeovers and acquisitions of wind farms and other assets — both fell by around 10%.

The low price of natural gas — which was between $3 and $5 per million BTU for almost all of 2010– hurt the growth of renewables, the report says. The price of natural gas was far less than it was in much of the mid-2000s, before it peaked at $13 in 2008.

“This gave generators in the US, but also in Europe and elsewhere, an incentive to build more gas-fired power stations and depressed the terms of power purchasing agreements available to renewable energy projects,” says the report.


Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by UNEP Division of Technology Industry and Economics, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.


Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

 

Conergy launches SunTop IV pitched-roof solar power mounting system

July 7, 2011 at 2:00 am | Solar Blog | 2 comments

 

With more sloped-roof installations world-wide than any other mounting system, Conergy’s SunTop mounting system is now even more advanced. Conergy has leveraged its eighteen-years of mounting system product design, manufacturing and nearly 14 years of installation experience, including 1 GW of mounting systems installed in 27 countries, to develop the SunTop IV, an advanced pitched-roof mounting system. From SunTop IV‚Äôs product development stage, Conergy focused on improving efficiency throughout the entire value chain. The SunTop IV system includes key upgrades that simplify inventory management, shipping, design planning and installation. Competitively priced, the SunTop IV reduces and eliminates hidden costs throughout the entire solar energy value chain.

Version IV of the SunTop solar energy mounting system offers several key product line upgrades. Conergy has expanded the number of available rail profiles: with light-weight; mid light weight; ‚Äúall purpose;‚ÄĚ and maximum strength rails, SunTop IV economically meets any design requirement. In addition, SunTop IV is now offered with tilt units for mounting on low-angle or flat roofs.

SunTop IV is also now offered with the Conergy QuickConfigurator, a comprehensive software planning tool that allows users to evaluate and optimize various combinations of array layouts, anchor points and rail profiles while ensuring full code compliance. With customizable building layout, roof construction, and environmental load data, the QuickConfigurator provides simple and fast planning. Conergy’s QuickConfigurator software will produce designs compliant with the International Building Code, the California Building Code, the Ontario (Canada) Building Code and the Canadian Building Code, and will provide stamped engineering certification letters and construction drawings to expedite permitting and installation.

“We’re very excited to bring this next evolution of our Conergy SunTop product line to market.¬† With the new rail sizes and tilt units, we’re confident that Conergy SunTop can cost-effectively serve nearly any rooftop PV mounting application.¬† Further, the advanced and comprehensive software design tool and the inherent benefits of a¬†low parts count enable cost and time savings across the customer’s business enterprise, not just on the roof at the jobsite,‚ÄĚ said Donald Chung, Conergy North America‚Äôs Director, Marketing and Product Management.

The SunTop IV solar energy system employs several unique features that simplify and speed the installation process. The Quickstone, also known as ‚Äúthe intelligent nut‚ÄĚ speeds installation by simplifying component assembly and requires only a single tool for complete array installation. The splice is a high-strength rail connection that maintains full-structural strength across the splice and, like all the other Quickstone-equipped components, is supplied fully pre-assembled. The SunTop IV’s telescoping end-pieces achieve millimeter rail length precision without any cutting or drilling. These technology advances and features shorten the installation learning curve and make it easy to standardize on one system for all types of installations. In addition, with all Quickstone components being fully pre-assembled, the complexities of inventory, shipping and installation are dramatically reduced.

The SunTop IV is manufactured at Conergy‚Äôs new manufacturing facility in Sacramento, California. ¬†Conergy’s state-of-the-art computer-controlled manufacturing processes along with stringent quality controls insure precision tolerances for reliable assembly and long-term durability. Conergy’s careful attention to production management assures minimum lead times and reliable delivery to Conergy’s partners.

 

About Conergy
Around the world, only Conergy delivers solar energy systems from a single source. As a system manufacturer, Conergy produces all components for a solar installation and offers all services under one roof. With its modules, inverters and mounting systems, the solar expert creates Conergy System Technology, which is efficient and synchronized solar energy systems for private or commercial rooftops, as well as for multi-Megawatt Parks.

Conergy System Sales brings Conergy premium products to nearly 40 countries. The solar expert supports homeowners, installers, wholesalers and investors in their efforts to ‚Äúgo solar‚ÄĚ through deep-rooted local operations in 18 countries. With sales activities on five continents, Conergy has close relationships with all its customers. Listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange, Conergy employs more than 1,700 people worldwide. Since Conergy‚Äôs founding in 1998, it has produced and sold more than 1.5 GW of clean solar power.

Conergy‚Äôs Solar Large Projects Group delivers a ‚ÄúWorry-Free Package‚ÄĚ for Conergy solar installations. Conergy‚Äôs experts manage the planning and financing, project installation and implementation, system monitoring, operation and on-going maintenance for turn-key solar projects to achieve maximum performance.

Through its acquisition of well-established local companies, Conergy began operating as a distributor and project developer in North America in 2005 and currently has five offices, four warehouses and three production sites in the region. Conergy manufacturers mounting systems in Sacramento, CA. In Ontario, Canada Conergy produces modules and mounting systems that meet local content requirements for the Provincial FIT. Conergy offers innovative products and tailored services to their North America network of system integrators and project developers.Through these activities, Conergy maintains expert knowledge about local market conditions and requirements.

Please contact us if you have any questions or requests.

 

 

Cleaning a Spill and Reigniting a Debate in Montana

July 6, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Solar Blog | No comment

 

First, though, there’s quite a mess to clean up.

On Friday, an Exxon Mobile pipeline originally buried just 12 inches below the Yellowstone River ruptured, spewing an estimated 1,000 barrels of crude oil ‚Äď or about 42,000 gallons¬†‚Ästinto the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states.

The spill promises to respark a debate the pits deep-rooted extraction industries like coal and oil against the state’s iconic natural beauty. But the battle lines are far fuzzier than that, says Connor Darby, president of the nonprofit Montana Renewable Energy Association.

‚ÄúOn the one hand a lot of people are championing natural beauty. On the other hand, they‚Äôre trying to make a living so they can stay here,‚ÄĚ said Darby, who points out that support for renewables is strongest in the urban areas rather than the wide open scenic parts of the state. ‚ÄúThe mindset is for cheap energy up front that is going to help you save money and survive in one of the slower economies in the country.‚ÄĚ

The spill, Darby believes, could help those in the rural part of the state better understand the relationship between energy makeup, policy decisions and rural protection.

‚ÄúLike any major disaster we‚Äôve seen, it really makes people stand up straight and pay attention to the problems with our existing system and open their eyes to options that exist, not only as consumers but as producers of their own energy,‚ÄĚ he said.

To get there, Darby said there’s a lot of work that needs to be done through legislation and education.

Perhaps the most divisive energy issue facing the state is the Mountain States Transmission Intertie (MSTI), a 1,500-megawatt (MW) transmission line that would deliver electricity mostly from renewable sources in Montana across the Western U.S. The proposal, though, has been caught up in eminent domain law.

‚ÄúDespite lots of wind energy proponents, there are large numbers of land owners and other interested parties up against the proposed line,‚ÄĚ said Darby. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been a major debate.‚ÄĚ

While on the surface, legislation has made strides in helping renewable sources come online, the Renewable Portfolio Standard established in 2005 still makes it difficult for some to compete. The RPS stipulates that utilities are not required to buy the renewable energy if the costs are 15 percent or greater than other available sources.

Some sources, like hydro, wind and biomass, are able to make the cut. Large-scale solar, though, has had a difficult time making inroads in the state.

Aside from the policy decisions, sometimes it’s the more easily understood news events like the Yellowstone River spill that allows the Montana Renewable Energy Association to slowly chip away through education.

‚ÄúWe‚Äôre at the point of moving beyond the early adopters of the technologies and we‚Äôre working to instill these new technologies in the mindset,‚ÄĚ said Darby. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a challenge not only in Montana but all over the country.‚ÄĚ

 

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