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Social Networking Is Great, But it Doesn’t Beat Socializing…And Networking

May 31, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Solar Blog | No comment

 

I’m a big fan of social media, especially as a business-to-business publication editor.  Through RenewableEnergyWorld.com, our Facebook page, my Twitter account, the REWorld Twitter account, my LinkedIn Profile and the renewable energy-focused LinkedIn groups of which I am a member, I am connected to a huge community of people who have the same passion that I do for renewable energy.

The benefits of social media for those of us who write or edit for a living are unprecedented. There has never been a time in history when writers could put their words out into the world and get immediate feedback on them. And for business networking, social media can’t be beat.  I recently learned that two readers who had commented on one of my pieces connected with each other and were at work on a deal.  Those types of results are music to a business editor’s ears.

But on the other hand, who the heck are all of you? While we all share this social media connection, do we really know each other?  Most interpersonal experts agree that we need to interface in order to really understand and learn from each other. What’s more, I heard today about a study that claims social networking is making us lonely despite the fact that we are more connected than ever.  I would agree that while I am happy to share and connect with the people in my network, I gain exponentially more knowledge about the renewable energy industry from meeting them in person.

So with this in mind, if you are in the solar industry, I am urging you to submit an abstract to speak at Solar POWER-GEN.  You are an expert in your field and this is where you can get in front of actual people and show it off.  We’ll be talking about the large-scale solar market, how to get financing, transmission headaches and cures, permitting, policy and how the large-scale solar power market is developing globally among many other topics.  The show takes place next February in San Diego, Calif.

I can’t even begin to name all of the experts who sit on the conference program committee with me, but I assure you that they represent all facets of the solar industry and they know it very well.  These people review all the abstracts submitted and select those that will make compelling sessions. Having your abstract selected is an honor by itself but it also guarantees you a full conference pass and ensures that you won’t have any excuse not to come to Solar POWER-GEN and start socializing and networking in person.

The abstract submission deadline is only 20 days away!  Submit your abstract today. 

Lead image: social media isolation via shutterstock.

 

Jobs In Solar: Field Energy Efficiency Consultant

May 31, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Solar Blog | No comment

 

Date: 2012-05-30, 4:16PM MST
Reply to: see below


The Energy Efficiency Consultant is responsible for closing sales of
residential Home Energy Evaluations and Energy Efficiency Upgrades. The
ideal candidate should be a subject-matter expert in residential
building science, including building envelope performance, HVAC systems,
water heating and combustion safety. The candidate must be a team
player, able to handle a high volume of leads, willing to work long and
odd hours (including weekends) and have a high degree of maturity.

• Responsibilities
• Sell Energy Efficiency products and services to new SolarCity
residential customers, as well as SolarCity’s existing customer base.
• Generating project proposals/quotes for customers.
• Analysis of customer’s current and projected electrical usage and financial return on investment.
• Must have a clear understanding of sales cycle, contract agreements
and be able to explain and review agreements to close customers.
• Logging all communications with customers in CRM contact database.
• Exceed set targets and work in a fast paced environment.
• Deal effectively with all inquiries and represent SolarCity in a professional manner.

• Requirements
• Have at least 2 year full-cycle direct sales experience with a proven track record meeting quotas.
• Proficiency with MS Office (Salesforce.com is a plus).
• Previous knowledge of energy efficiency and building science.
• BPI certification is preferred.
• Previous experience conducting Energy Audits (home performance testing) is preferred.
• Possess excellent verbal/written communication and telephone skills.
• Ability to work under pressure and a fast pace environment
• Clean DMV driving record (example, no DUI in the last 5 years).
• All candidates must be able to successfully pass a pre-employment background and drug screen.

About SolarCity

SolarCity® is a national leader in solar power and energy efficiency
services. The company’s mission is to help millions of homeowners and
businesses adopt clean power to reduce pollution and save money.
SolarCity’s financing options can make it possible for many homeowners
and businesses to switch to solar power for less than they currently pay
for electricity. The company also offers a range of energy efficiency
services, including efficient heating, cooling and lighting, and is a
leading provider of electric vehicle charging stations. The U.S.
Department of Energy named SolarCity a Green Power Supplier of the Year
in 2010, and Fast Company Magazine called it one of the 50 most
innovative companies in the world in 2011. SolarCity’s 25 office
locations serve more than 2,000 communities in Arizona, California,
Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, New Jersey, New York,
Pennsylvania and Texas and Washington, D.C.

To Apply: Please apply via our website: http://www.solarcity.com/hr/619/34/Field-Energy-Efficiency-Consultant-.aspx

  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don’t contact this job poster.
  • Please, no phone calls about this job!
 

Solar or Wind Power: Which is More Efficient?

May 31, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Solar Blog | 3 comments

 

This is a question that many of us who follow the clean energy industry may have asked ourselves: which one represents more value for money, wind or solar power? Surely they are both alternative energy types that we should embrace in order to break ourselves from our oil addiction.

But are they exactly the same in terms of efficiency, that is, how much electricity they can produce? They capture energy in very different ways, but one experiment carried out by Inland Power and Light arrived at the conclusion that solar is more efficient.

They compared a 35-foot wind turbine with a solar panel array, making sure that both could generate the same amount of electricity under optimal conditions. Both cost $22,000 as well.

Apparently the solar array generated five times more power than the wind turbine mainly because of the varying wind speeds that stops the turbine from generating power. Solar, it seems, is less intermittent than wind.

Another advantage of solar panels is that they are easier to integrate architecturally. But considering how much energy we need to run this planet, it’s good to have a choice. Surely under some conditions, wind will do a better job than solar and vice-versa. The point is to continue developing both technologies so they become increasingly efficient.

Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.

 

Set to Shine Again is the Solar PV

May 31, 2012 at 9:45 am | Solar Blog | No comment

 

(31/05/2012) free RSS news feed from Solar News Portal

The commotion that has surrounded the government funded feed-in-tariffs (FITs) since they launched in April 2011, has caused many homeowners to be aware. This fuss would have undoubtedly put most consumers confidence at a low, however in an announcement made yesterday by the Department of Climate Change (DECC), stability for solar is on the horizon. We can now reveal that the subsidy is set to receive a beam of security which will at least last for the next three years.

From August 1 2012, the subsidy which currently stands at 21p kWh for 4kW systems introduced into domestic properties will drop to 16p kWh. As the FITs were never set to be an everlasting subsidy, this new inevitable decrease has also been introduced with a range of new modifications set to help rebuild consumer confidence by bringing stability into the market. These modifications include;
-A multi-installation tariff for organizations with over 25 installations. They will receive 90 % of the standard applicable tariff, which is up from 80%.

-Export tariff will be increased from 3.2p to 4.5p/kWh for those installations with an eligibility date on or after August 1.

-The FIT lifetime will be reduced from 25 to 20 years for those installations with an eligibility date on or after August 1.

-Tariffs for installations that do not meet the energy efficiency requirements will mirror the tariffs for standalone installations.

This revision combined with the new rate has now outlined the FITs plans for the next 3 years, unless there is significant uptake. The DECC have announced the new tariff of 16p kWh and have outlined the process in which the tariff will decrease over the next three years. The announcement detailed that the FIT will steadily decrease at a rate of 3.5% every 3 months, beginning October 1st 2012. This means that over the course of a year the subsidy will reduce by around 2.24p which is a welcome and slow decline considering it has dropped a staggering 27.3p since December 2011. This new rate is set to introduce and reaffirm consumer confidence and put back some confidence in the installer that has invested their time and money into solar too.

As the new tariff is set for August 1 2012, consumers still have a 9 week window in which to gain the current higher rate of 21p kWh so as always time is of the essence for those wishing to obtain the higher rate which will be guaranteed for 25 years.

Carl Bennett, Managing Director of Trade Skills 4U, Britain’s premier electrical renewable energy training company reveals his thoughts on recent announcement. “There have been a lot of gloomy headlines about solar power but the fact is the returns on offer are far better than anything you can get in the bank. The smart money is on solar PV. And by investing in
solar power not only do householders protect themselves from rocketing electricity bills; they help local businesses and employment. Our business has enjoyed growth as result of our investment in solar. Last year we built a first storey training roof, which is the only one of its kind in the UK, in order to train solar installers and in the environment they will be
working in when they qualify. Our dedication to ‘real life’ scenario training as seen a steady rise in business and helped to drive us forward in the recession when many have cut back. Now that government have announced future stability for the Feed-in-Tariff, we can only predict a steady and stable future for solar which is of course great news for everyone.”

Martin Gebbett, Director of DPS Renewable Technologies says: ‘The announcement by the DECC signals an end to the uncertainty that has prevailed in the PV solar industry since September 2011. We believe the new set guidelines allow us to plan move clearly for the future and drive our business forward. We have seen a noticeable increase in enquiries over the last few weeks and see a positive outlook’.

The environmental campaign group Greenpeace is keen to encourage people to invest in solar. Dr Doug Parr, Policy Director at Greenpeace UK explains why: “Local renewable energy remains a valuable contributor to a sustainable economy. We welcome further solar PV systems, taking advantage of genuinely sustainable energy in the drive to protect the planet from climate change.”

Virginia Graham, Chief Executive of the REAL Consumer Code said; “It is true that solar power can still offer attractive returns to householders in the right circumstances. We recommend anyone interested in installing solar power to ensure the supplier is listed on the REAL and MCS websites and to read our guidance for consumers carefully before going
ahead.

There has been over a quarter of a million installations across the UK since the launch of the FIT in April 2010. The industry has blossomed to employ around 25,000 people and it is set to grow rapidly, despite the recession. Thanks to campaigning by the Solar Trade Association the role of solar power is now recognised by Government and the Prime Minister with 22GW anticipated by 2020.

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 Climate change and global warming 

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Offer of Solar thermal filling/ flushing station is back with a bang!

May 31, 2012 at 9:43 am | Solar Blog | No comment

 

(31/05/2012) free RSS news feed from Solar News Portal

To give away one award-winning Resol SBS 2000 filling/ flushing station with every 12 m2 of Vitosol solar panels or kits (evacuated tube or flat plate) purchased, Viessmann is re-launching its popular installer promotion. The offer applies to single or multiple purchases between May 1st and September 30th 2012.

The SBS 2000 filling and flushing station won the renowned Design Plus award at the 2011 ISH show and is suitable for filling conventional heating systems. Its large, smooth-running wheels and the ergonomic handlebar make it easy to manoeuvre the station even when full. The robust 30 litre tank is semi-transparent, showing the filling level at any time. The SBS 2000 can be used with water, water-glycol mixtures and cleaning fluids.

“For solar thermal professionals, filling and flushing solar thermal systems is a day-to-day business and it is important that they can trust their equipment. We hope installers will once again be as keen to have this highly acclaimed equipment at their disposal, as they are to recommend and fit our Vitosol solar technology,” says Darren McMahon, marketing manager for Viessmann Ltd.

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Offer of Solar thermal filling/ flushing station is back with a bang!

May 31, 2012 at 9:43 am | Solar Blog | No comment

 

(31/05/2012) free RSS news feed from Solar News Portal

To give away one award-winning Resol SBS 2000 filling/ flushing station with every 12 m2 of Vitosol solar panels or kits (evacuated tube or flat plate) purchased, Viessmann is re-launching its popular installer promotion. The offer applies to single or multiple purchases between May 1st and September 30th 2012.

The SBS 2000 filling and flushing station won the renowned Design Plus award at the 2011 ISH show and is suitable for filling conventional heating systems. Its large, smooth-running wheels and the ergonomic handlebar make it easy to manoeuvre the station even when full. The robust 30 litre tank is semi-transparent, showing the filling level at any time. The SBS 2000 can be used with water, water-glycol mixtures and cleaning fluids.

“For solar thermal professionals, filling and flushing solar thermal systems is a day-to-day business and it is important that they can trust their equipment. We hope installers will once again be as keen to have this highly acclaimed equipment at their disposal, as they are to recommend and fit our Vitosol solar technology,” says Darren McMahon, marketing manager for Viessmann Ltd.

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Part of the Boom, Large-Scale Solar Market is set for Revival

May 31, 2012 at 9:42 am | Solar Blog | No comment

 

(31/05/2012) free RSS news feed from Solar News Portal

The UK’s large-scale solar market is set for a revival as PV component prices have dropped to a point where the Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROCs) incentive is once more viable.

Greg Barker, Minister of State for Energy at DECC, has announced his expectations of deployment under ROCs to be between 300MW-600MW this financial year. Just last week UK-based company Hive Energy put forward plans to develop a 25MW solar park in Suffolk, partnering with Moser Baer to deliver the £40 million scheme which will add to the
132MW of large-scale solar planned in the country. Add to that Anesco’s 30MW+ plans, including its 5MW solar park in Fawley, and large-scale solar in the UK is back, big time.

Solar Business Focus UK magazine, the quintessential news source for UK solar professionals, is already distributed to all MCS certified installers within the UK. As a UK first, July’s edition with incorporate a Large Scale Solar feature, with a special extended circulation to EPCs. As the EPCs learn about developing a UK park (by Lightsource), financing and integrating the system (by Octopus Investments and SolarCentury), and even study the planning of large scale (by Cornwall Council), this is your chance to position your products and be the solution to EPCs equipment needs

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Solar Offers Former LA Gang Members a Bright New Path

May 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Solar Blog | No comment

 

Here at Vote Solar we work day in and day out on the policies that help solar thrive. We are passionate about our work – but it’s easy to get buried in a world of regulatory dockets and draft legislation. Which is why we sure appreciate a reminder of what solar power means to the daily lives of those it touches.

The June issue of Photon Magazine does just that with a truly moving article by Chris Warren about Homeboy Industries, the Los Angeles non-profit that provides job training for former gang members who have been in prison. The article (you can read a copy here) provides a window on the stories of people who have turned their lives around, thanks to the opportunity to join the growing local solar industry.

As Warren writes, solar has the power to transform individual lives as well as to transform our energy systems and fight climate change. That’s one more valuable reason that leaders in the city’s government and at the LA Department of Water and Power should keep building on their recent momentum in coming years, boosting solar development across LA and in the process creating jobs that provide opportunities and inspiration for Angelenos of all stripes.

Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.

 

Can the Weather Provide Insurance for the Wind and Solar Industries?

May 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Solar Blog | No comment

 

Lately, these entities have been eyeing the financial markets for opportunities to hedge their resource-intermittency exposure, which is one of the thorniest problems looming over wind and solar industries. This has prompted a budding interest in the weather derivatives as a sort of performance insurance that could potentially boost project bankability, and even tamp down capital costs in the pre-financial close phase. Currently, there is little demand for these contract-based instruments in the wind and solar sectors, but several stakeholders see a market beginning to take shape.

On Derivatives

Generally, derivatives are bi- or multi-lateral contracts that specify a certain type of financial transaction to occur at a future date or upon a certain condition. The contract “derives” its value from one or more underlying assets, such as stock or bonds. Contract prices are typically valued according to today’s cash market price and/or the probability of a future event(s) happening or not (for example, a drop in commodity prices, fluctuations in interest rates, or a change in the weather), according to Brendan Moynihan in Financial Origami: How the Wall Street Model Broke.

Derivatives are risk transfer tools; they allow an entity to shift the risk of holding an asset or group of assets onto a counterparty that is willing to accept that risk in exchange for a premium. In this way, derivatives can function like an insurance policy, though there are some differences between the two (see below).

Weather derivatives are a special type of derivative contract that specify payouts in the event that certain weather conditions adversely affect the revenue streams of a business. That business will pay a premium to the contract offtaker in exchange for assuming the weather risk. The underlying asset of a weather derivative, and from which premiums and payouts are derived, is an index of weather variables that have been assigned dollar amounts. For example, one of the most used indices in the weather derivative market is the heating degree day (HDD), which provides a daily measurement of the heating demand in buildings based on the outdoor temperature in a given region. Weather derivatives are valued on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange by multiplying a monthly aggregate of HDD values by $20.

For the wind and solar industries, the weather variables of concern are the wind speed and the quantity of sunshine driving generation during a given timeframe (which means the variables are expressed in watt hours). Thus, wind and solar derivatives (as a subset of weather derivatives) would be used to hedge weather-related production risk — that is, the risk that the quantity of resource during the contract period will fall short of that needed to generate power, and thus revenues, sufficient to service debts. So, if your wind farm underperforms because of a streak of windless days, a derivative contract could potentially compensate you in the event that your production dips below the “strike,” or the level at which coverage is triggered. If the derivative is structured like a collar, the power producer will give up some of the upside revenues in exchange for downside protection. In this way, derivatives can not only mitigate project losses but also the threats posed by revenue volatility.

Weather Derivatives vs. Insurance

Though insurance-like in behavior, weather derivatives are fundamentally distinct from traditional insurance. Generally, both are avenues to transfer risk in exchange for premium payments; however, while weather derivatives anticipate high-probability low-risk events (i.e., weather fluctuations) and cover concentrated or singular risks, traditional insurance usually anticipates low-probability, high-risk events and is more comprehensive in coverage. Moreover, derivative premiums and payouts are determined by the market value of the underlying asset(s) not by the probability of a loss event occurring (as is the case with insurance).

One benefit of using derivatives in place of insurance is that the hedge is more protected from spatially correlated events such as adverse weather patterns. If, for example, a heat wave moving across the western United States halts production at wind farms in several states, project owners may have little recourse in the geographical diversity of their portfolio. Derivatives afford project owners access to the risk sharing forums of the financial markets, and this kind of diversification can trump that of geographical distribution.

Another benefit of derivatives is that the settlement process is typically quicker and less onerous than it is for insurance. Derivatives pay out instantly and are based on the movements of an index — something that is not open to contestation, given the proper functioning of the measurement apparatus. Insurance claims, on the other hand, can take considerable time and effort, and can produce a range of transaction costs because of the difficulties inherent in assessing claims.

Demand

Currently, the market for derivatives to hedge weather-related production risk in the renewable energy industry is quite small (one estimate pegs the percentage of wind producers globally that hold weather derivative contracts in the low double digits). Pricing for these instruments can still be uneconomical for wind and solar projects, and industry players may still be generally unfamiliar with their function. Another issue may be in the scant secondary market for wind and solar derivatives; that is, it may prove tricky to find enough counterparties that are naturally short wind or sunlight and who can create a demand pull by buying up these contracts from the originators to hedge their own investments. One possible candidate for the wind industry could be natural gas generators whose capacity factors decrease when wind power comes on the grid.  But for now, it may be the speculators that make the market.

Despite the current limited market for wind and solar derivatives, many industry stakeholders believe this form of risk management will take off in the near-term. Companies continue to innovate products (for example, Galileo’s WindLock and SolarLock products rolled out in 2011), and the demand for intermittency protection will, of course, persist. It is also likely that other risk management products such as catastrophe bonds, captive insurance companies, and even special insurance policies will play larger roles in protecting against intermittency risk in the near-term as well. As Torsten Musick, managing director at 8KU Renewables said, “products to deal with weather-related volume risk will be the next big thing in this business.”

This article was originally published on NREL Renewable Energy Finance and was republished with permission.

Image: Vibrant Image Studio via Shutterstock

 

New Solar Cell Could be Cheaper and Longer Lasting Alternative

May 30, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Solar Blog | No comment

 

The standard solar cell uses silicon oxide, which is expensive and environmentally toxic. One of the promising alternatives is the so-called “Grätzel cell”, a cheaper, cleaner alternative based on more abundant titanium oxide. However, they don’t last long because this type of dye-sensitized cell uses an electrolyte made from an organic liquid that can leak and potentially corrode the cell.

Researchers at the Northwestern University in Colorado believe they may have solved the problem with the development of a new material that solidifies after being applied to the nanoparticles, therefore it won’t corrode the cell. They say their solid-state cell is more robust and could finally present a viable alternative to standard commercial silicon cells, even though efficiency rate is lower at around 10 percent (while silicon ones may reach 20 per cent).

Researcher Robert P.H. Chang said the cell uses “nanotechnology to the hilt. We have millions and millions of nanoparticles, which gives us a huge effective surface area, and we coat all the particles with light-absorbing dye.”

The next step is to develop an array to carry out further tests.

Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.

 

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