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There Is Solar, And There Is Solar

27/01/2015 at 5:41 pm | Solar Blog | No comment


The Hindu, Jan 19, 2015 quotes India’s Renewable Energy Minister Piyush Goyal: “India [is] committed to a … aim of 100,000 MW solar appetite ability by 2022…We are going forward with a new renewable appetite process regardless of who will deposit in it.” India also has an considerable training and practice module to coincide with a investment. However, a supervision has not nonetheless indicated what suit of this ability will be used for distributed generation, yet we design that a infancy will be grid-tied. That is, a object converted to electricity will be fed into a loss- and theft-prone grid (nearly 20 percent is lost) before it reaches a patron — and grid-tied solar does not assistance farming foundation either. 

If this is a proceed we rubbish good electricity, we consternation since we should bother to furnish solar appetite in a initial place, if we devise to rubbish so most of it?

Consider a numbers in context. India’s electricity sector has an installed capacity at EOY 2014 of ~255 GW, of that ~2.6 GW, about 1 percent is solar. The further of 100 GW solar is so a poignant joining to renewables. The cost for this is estimated during “$100 billion a year for a subsequent 5 years for prolongation and $50 billion a year for delivery and placement costs.”

All of this is good. we wish there was an pithy importance on “distributed generation” (DG) that is, rooftop solar. After all, India can also feasibly furnish 100 GW of electricity by providing 100 million sites — schools, supervision offices, standalone homes, streetlights, H2O pumps — with solar-powered systems whose normal ability is ~1 kW. This choice is democratic, encourages internal enterprise, and reduces bucket on a existent grid. It is during slightest as immature as, reduction greedy than, and some-more labor-intensive than, a stream approach. Small, standalone systems are also substantially some-more strong and reliable. Large projects, in contrast, are disposed to centralized control, and therefore a sell of favors, that is, corruption.

Typologies matter. Not all photovoltaics are equivalent, yet governments provide them as such when environment renewable deployment goals. Grid-tied, application scale solar and vast breeze turbines located in remote areas or offshore are within the benefaction attention fold. They do not bluster a business indication of electric utilities.

On a other hand, rooftop photovoltaics with subsequent era batteries paint an exogenous and disruptive force from outward a walled-garden of electric utilities. 

While a grid will be with us for a prolonged time, a movement — best topology and economics — preference tiny distributed era (DG) systems orderly as a association of microgrids.

“Solar” is so not always an suitable tenure for contention and analysis. It is critical to ask: Where is a solar deployed? Is it grid-tied or distributed? India consistently underemphasizes DG. The need for electricity, quickly, in all forms is significant, and maybe this weighs in preference of MW scale projects.

A whinging guess remains: Are centralized grid-tied systems elite since their budgets benefaction opportunities for “consideration” in a origination and placement of electricity?

Lead image: Transmission around Shutterstock

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Climate Change: The Need for a More Consistent Baseline and Immediate Action

27/01/2015 at 5:41 pm | Solar Blog | No comment


An approved final accord, however, will be possible only if the delegates are able to respond successfully to multiple scientific, economic and political questions already having proven problematic and divisive in their answers. For example, who bears what responsibility for the problem?  How will each country pay the piper? Will China, Brazil and India be considered the same type of developing economies as Vietnam, Nicaragua and small island nations in the Caribbean or the Pacific Ocean?

What is generally understood and agreed to by climate change acceptors is:

  • CO2 is the major cause of global warming;
  • CO2 is a long-lasting greenhouse gas and about half of what has ever entered the atmosphere is still there; 
  • CO2 longevity requires that emissions be cumulatively measured and considered;
  • The Earth’s temperature should not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius;
  • Avoiding irreversible climate change will require net carbon neutrality some time during this century.

Key scientific questions with unclear answers include:

  • How much cumulative CO2 will cause temperatures to rise beyond the threshold?
  • What is the size of the gap between the current amount of atmospheric CO2 and the tipping point?
  • Is there sufficient time to implement a final accord?
  • What happens if temperatures rise above 2 degrees Celsius?

The When and How Much Debate

The first three of these questions are inter-related and the subject of varying opinions by well-recognized and respected environmental researchers in academia, government, the private sector and NGOs.  Estimates vary on the amount of CO2 that can be safely emitted by a factor of nearly 2 ranging from 250 to 485 billion metric tons.  Assuming estimates of a tipping point of between 1,000 and 1,200 billion metric tons are correct and the rate of global emissions stays relatively stable between now and 2020, when the hoped for Paris accord will be implemented, then the threshold will be crossed less than a decade after the accord is passed.  If the higher estimates of the “still possible CO2 to be emitted” is correct then the scales will be tipped sometime between 2035 and 2045, depending upon what countries agree to and more importantly what they actually do to curb emissions within the next thirty years.

In its recent Gap Report, the UN has concluded that it seems likely that the 2 degree threshold will be crossed before the end of this century and that the world is on track to see a temperature rise of 3.7 degrees Celsius. According to Corinne Le Quere at the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia, England:  “We are nowhere near the commitments needed to stay below 2 degrees Celsius of climate change, a level that will be hard to reach for any country, including rich nations.” 

The issues of “when and how much” are complicated and dependent upon a better understanding of natural systems, (how much CO2 are plants and trees actually capable of soaking up) and human behavior (what motivates people to become climate conscious).  What is not complicated or in much dispute is the continuing rise in emissions and acceptance that there is in fact a limit to how much CO2 the atmosphere can hold without the occurrence of some serious negative consequences. This is particularly so in the face of rising global populations and diminished natural resources like arable land and potable water. 

The question of the exact consequences of going past 2 degrees is probably even harder to determine with certainty.  Although there is ample anecdotal evidence and a growing body of scientific and peer reviewed data of more frequent and destructive storms, rising sea levels, the loss of natural habitats, a greater incidence of insect borne diseases and the loss of species, the fact is that much research still needs to be done.  Anthropogenic activity leading to environmental disasters refers to more than a reliance on fossil fuel resources for power production.  It also means unsustainable agricultural practices, water and land pollution, the loss of topsoil, the use of carcinogenic chemicals and building supplies, runaway population growth, as well as a host of other harmful and unsustainable human activities.

It is not even clear whether 2 degrees is the actual boundary. There are those who would argue that the there is some slack in the target and that warming beyond 2 degrees could be tolerated, while others have argued that the danger point is closer to a rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius, and 2 degrees would lead to a substantial loss of vegetation that would serve to slowly move the thermometer from 2 degrees Celsius to over 3 degrees as a sort of echo effect.  According to the former co-chair of an IPCC science-assessment working group, Susan Soloman: “there is little by way of quantitative evidence that this represents a ‘safe’ policy target.”  The target is really a function of differing assumptions.  Until more definitive research is done and consistent assumptions are established, the 2 degree target is more a place holder than scientific fact.

Implementing a Plan

The lack of scientific certainty about exactly when the environmental balance will be tipped has left the door open to climate deniers and support for the business as usual scenario.  However, there is an increasing probability that the door is closing.  Evidence of this can be seen through the actions of UN delegates in Lima, the rapidly increasing number of private corporations who understand the value and opportunity of sustainable practices and investments, the emergence of bi-lateral agreements as have recently occurred between the U.S. and China, the recognition that sustainability is a matter of any nation’s security and the clarity of the concept that environmental stewardship is the way forward for all economies.  Business can no longer operate as usual and neither can thought, business and government leaders. 

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Renewables Innovation Stored Here — Handle With Care

27/01/2015 at 8:37 am | Solar Blog | No comment


“If we don’t like what is being said, afterwards change a conversation” — a writers of Mad Men could have been considering renewable appetite PR. If someone argues that realizing low and extensive renewable appetite deployment hinges on technological revolution, they substantially haven’t listened to a likes of Amory Lovins — or browsed a new International Energy Agency’s reports.

The appetite zone teeters on a rebirth age and everybody in a business should conform themselves pioneers. Yet story is full of missed opportunities. Renewables could sojourn marginalized if a sector’s mindset does not turn market-oriented and follow a magnitude law market’s model.  Frequency law marketplace emerged as a success story with an impossibly far-reaching import for a appetite universe by battery storage innovation.

Frequency Regulation

The resolution to storage, that represents a vital snarl of renewables deployment, does not indispensably have to come from a renewables sector.  Pay for performance, enacted in 2011 by FERC 755, a new order from a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, non-stop a doorway for marketplace pricing in a magnitude law market.

Frequency law is what allows consumers to accept a solid electricity stream, but any flickering lights or bureau apparatus shutdowns. This requires a unchanging turn of appetite prolongation from mixed appetite producers that constantly respond to appetite direct fluctuations. Batteries can adjust to a fluctuations requirement in milliseconds, as opposite to a mins it takes to glow adult a new generator.

FERC 755

The new FERC order relates a elementary market-economics judgment to an attention accustomed to usually supervision incentives — improved behaving units accept a reward over a reduce behaving units. The tip down vigilance trickled by a grid operators of informal markets. As recently as mid-2014, Eastern Interconnection grid operator PJM passed an amendment to a FERC order that increasing mandate for magnitude law providers. The law marketplace cost will cost in these worse standards, rewarding creation along a battery storage value chain. In late 2014, New England practiced to a FERC 755, a final segment to do so. Large-scale battery producers now have a potentially new marketplace to assistance comprehend a reduce risk-reward ratio.

Even with a obvious operation of applicability, storage record has not satisfied a full potential. A news published by FERC a decade ago admitted appetite storage as an “ideal supplier” in good providing immediate subordinate services. The new FERC 755 order increasing a law marketplace clearing cost by a cause of three. On a one hand, a approaching arise in healthy gas prices will lead to a arise of marketplace clearing price, as a dual are tied.  On a other hand, fast-responding solutions in a law marketplace float underneath 20 percent invasion levels. Given that a marketplace can support 60 percent penetration, who will comprehend a earnings by assembly a 3 overlay boost in a invasion levels? In stream conditions, compensate for opening still stays viable record lift in a market.  But achieving a additional 40 percent invasion turn needs a some-more than a extrinsic change in a standing quo battery technology.

Current Storage Projects

Frequency law marketplace offers a sidestep opposite a risk compared with unproven technology. Yet innovative projects continue need a aloft aim ambitions and focus. Swiss-based association bought a North Carolina bureau and betrothed blurb scale battery array prolongation by mid-2015 — as good as a USD 1bn account for complement development.  The betrothed game-changer battery will aim rubbish rebate during appetite plants — a side marketplace will be magnitude law market. At a glance, a plan seems good orderly and business have committed to a finish products. However, with estimates of 11 percent rubbish rebate in spark plants, improvements seem marginal. Even yet ubiquitous seductiveness in storage record is flourishing, but specific and targeted criteria, plan goals can turn deceptive and overdrawn. 

Investment Potential

The notice of a market, be it appetite storage or a ubiquitous renewables sector, has already evolved. While once suspicion of as an environmentally-focused niche market, a renewables zone now boasts a $32 billion marketplace intensity in a subsequent dual years and promises long-term blurb investment opportunities. With good marketplace potential, comes good investments — investments will upsurge to a zone that promises returns, given diversified and managed risk. Thus a plea stays to emanate suitable incentives that inspire organic renewables marketplace maturation.

Improved batteries concede for decreased law needs and increasing renewables grid integration. Pay for opening indication demonstrates a advantages of marketplace orientation. However, magnitude law storage needs are usually a square of a marketplace puzzle. Other players contingency emerge for delay of a creation process. Creating open marketplace environment, such as a compensate for opening in a magnitude law market, hangs a acquire pointer on a attention door: open for business. 

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Do Oil Prices Affect Electricity Prices in the US? Apparently Not, Despite What Investors Think

27/01/2015 at 5:38 am | Solar Blog | No comment


pvpowerplantInvestors are freaking out a bit over the price of crude oil, which has dropped precipitously since June 2014. But they’re not just freaking out over their fossil fuel stocks- they’re freaking out about solar investment as well. Over the last six months, the stock prices of publicly traded solar companies has fallen sharply, to 60-70% of their initial stock prices.

But is cheap oil really as bad for solar development as the numbers indicate?

The short answer is “no”, and the long answer is “hell, no”.

You might imagine that people who buy energy stocks would know a thing or two about how energy is produced in the US, but it seems they do not. Of all the fuel sources used in America to generate electricity, liquid petroleum is declining the most rapidly, even more rapidly than nuclear power. And we haven’t broken ground on a new nuclear plant since 1974 (although that may change soon).

In the US, oil is a transportation and heating fuel; natural gas, hydropower, nuclear, coal and renewables make up the electricity generating mix. Cheap oil will not bring electricity prices down, and investors should realize that in the long run, solar is better for the environment and for the bottom line.

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US and India reach a climate deal, but no agreement to curb emissions

27/01/2015 at 5:38 am | Solar Blog | No comment


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barack obama, modi, india, us, climate change, coal power, developing nation, renewable energy

In the first day of talks between President Barack Obama and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the two leaders agreed to some renewable energy policies in the developing nation, which is the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. But the talks did not result in a clear-cut commitment by India to curb carbon emissions, such as the pact made between the U.S. and China late last year.

barack obama, modi, india, us, climate change, coal power, developing nation, renewable energy

In India, there are currently 300 million people without electricity. As a result, the country has long maintained that it cannot forgo any method of bringing power to its poor, which has led to a substantial reliance on coal. Historically, India’s leaders have also maintained that the responsibility for climate change should also rest in the hands of those who have been most responsible: the U.S., the E.U. and China.

While the meeting between Obama and Modi fell short of addressing some of the larger issues of climate change, it did result in some key agreements related to energy development. The U.S. has agreed to help out technologically and financially with India’s goal to reach 100 gigawatts of solar energy by 2022. In addition it will become easier for U.S. companies to build nuclear reactors in India. While the method, and its safety, is certainly controversial, it will provide more electricity without significant carbon emissions.

Finally, the duo agreed to work towards phasing out hydroflurocarbons, which are used in refrigeration and contribute to climate change. In all, the talks saw a cultural shift on the part of the Indian government, in the form of a greater willingness to accept a role in slowing climate change. But environmental groups in the nation still believe that India has far to go.

Related: China and the U.S. Reach Breakthrough Landmark Climate Agreement to Cut Carbon

As Grist notes, there was no clear “indication from India that bringing electricity to its hundreds of millions of poor and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are not mutually exclusive goals.” Greenpeace India had clarified before the talks that “any announcement on India’s climate action needs to address future coal expansion to make the cut.” Meanwhile, environmental groups working in India have found themselves the victims of harassment.

It will likely take significantly more action to quell the skepticism of some environmentalists, but Modi appears amenable: “For President Obama and me, clean and renewable energy is a personal and national priority… We discussed our ambitious national efforts and goals to increase the use of clean and renewable energy.”

Via Grist and Bloomberg

Lead image via Wikimedia Commons, Second image via Shutterstock

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UPDATE: Cape Wind in Jeopardy as Two Utilities Seek to Terminate Power Purchase Agreements

27/01/2015 at 5:37 am | Solar Blog | No comment


According to a Boston Globe, Cape Wind stopped creation payments final week to Quonset Development Corporation in Rhode Island to franchise 14 acres of land for a turbine member public area. Developers also consummated a purchase-and-sale agreement with a jetty in Falmouth, Massachusetts that was dictated to ride workers to and from a plan site. It is misleading as to either Cape Wind still has a $4.5 million agreement with a newly built pier in New Bedford, Massachusetts, that was also dictated to be a turbine public area. 

ISO New England, that operates a informal energy grid, also dangling Cape Wind from participating in New England’s indiscriminate electricity markets final week.

We will continue to refurbish this story as some-more sum unfold. 

Original story from Jan 7, 2015:

While it seemed like Cape Wind was bubbling forward to turn a initial U.S. offshore breeze farm, a $2.6 billion plan strike another section wall currently as dual utilities announced that they will behind out of energy squeeze agreements (PPAs) determined in 2012.

National Grid and NSTAR, that had concluded to buy 50 percent and 27.5 percent of a 468-MW offshore project’s prolongation respectively, filed to cancel their contracts given a plan unsuccessful to finish financing by Dec 31, 2014.

“Unfortunately, Cape Wind has missed these vicious milestones,” Northeast Utilities mouthpiece Caroline Pretyman pronounced in an e-mail to a Boston Globe. “Additionally, Cape Wind has selected not to practice their right to post financial confidence in sequence to extend a agreement deadlines. Therefore a agreement is now terminated.”

To date, Cape Wind had cumulative some-more than $1 billion in debt financing, including $600 million with The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU), $600 million from Danish credit trade organisation EKF, $200 million from PensionDanmark, and a $150 million loan pledge from a U.S. Department of Energy.  Developers had approaching to embark construction by a finish of 2014, though were incompetent to accommodate that goal.

Cape Wind Associates are now appealing a utilities’ decisions to cancel a PPAs, citing “extended, rare and relentless litigation” that have behind a plan significantly, according to several reports. They explain that a sustenance in a agreement should countenance a prolongation of a financing deadline.

Indeed, Cape Wind has faced bloody antithesis given a pregnancy some-more than a decade ago. The plan has been taken to justice large times, many particularly due to a organisation of opponents called a Alliance for Nantucket Sound that is upheld by a Koch brothers, nonetheless it has won some-more than 26 cases. A decider recently knocked down these opponents, saying that they are an “obdurate rope of depressed residents of Cape and a Islands,” who “doffed their immature clothe and draped themselves in a ensign of free-market economics.”

Cape Wind orator Mark Rodgers pronounced in an e-mailed matter to Bloomberg that “it would be a caricature if delays caused by an seductiveness organisation saved by one of a Koch brothers could stop [the project].” 

If these contracts are terminated, it could be a poignant blow to a project, however “it’s probable it could be resuscitated,” according to Amy Grace, breeze attention researcher during Bloomberg New Energy Finance. 

We will refurbish this story as some-more information becomes available.

Lead image: Offshore breeze nightfall around Shutterstock

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US To Support India’s $160 Billion Solar Energy Push

26/01/2015 at 5:29 pm | Solar Blog | No comment


India’s aspiration would need $160 billion, according to Arunabha Ghosh, arch executive officer during a New Delhi-based Council on Energy, Environment Water. It would widespread solar panels opposite an area a homogeneous of 3 times a distance of India’s many populous city, Mumbai, and need a supervision to cut behind on thickets of law holding adult projects.

“Whether Modi can grasp a aim hinges on funding,” Izumi Kaizuka, manager of a investigate multiplication for RTS Corp., a Tokyo-based consulting organisation for a solar appetite industry, pronounced by write today. “The gait of solar enlargement has tended to be behind even underneath a prior idea that was many lower.”

With a flourishing race increasingly outspoken about wickedness levels that opposition a misfortune days in Beijing, India is racing to find ways to feed a spiraling appetite needs but adding to hothouse gas emissions.

Climate Talks

The solar module would assistance answer how India will revoke fossil-fuel wickedness as a United Nations pushes all countries abounding and bad comparison to adopt targets in time for a meridian limit in Paris in December. India’s emissions are a third tip in a universe behind a U.S. and China.

In November, China assimilated a U.S. in pledging to tip CO emissions underneath by a Paris process, lifting a doubt of how India will residence a issue. Modi built a solar attention in his Gujarat state before holding bureau in May and changed purify appetite adult a bulletin for a republic since.

“For President Obama and me, purify and renewable appetite is a personal and inhabitant priority,” Modi said.

His aim is for India to have 100 gigawatts of solar appetite by 2022, a same volume as China is targeting for 2020. If a outcome is a same, India has a many bigger jump to make than a northern neighbor.

China vs India

China has 33.4 gigawatts of solar ability commissioned now and control of many of a tip 10 row makers worldwide. India has 3.3 gigawatts of ability and no vital PV manufacturers, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Though India might onslaught to strech a solar goal, a government’s subsidy increases a awaiting of success and, in any event, a aim creates a republic an appealing market, pronounced Xie Jian, boss of Chinese solar row retailer JA Solar Holdings Co.

JA Holdings sees India as a pivotal market, Xie said. His perspective is echoed by Shawn Qu, arch executive officer of Guelph, Ontario-based Canadian Solar Inc., who pronounced in Nov during an talk in Wuxi, China, that he expects India to turn one of a fastest-growing solar markets in a world.

Money stays an issue. For now, India is attracting a fragment of a supports streamer to China, a U.S. and Japan, that were a largest solar markets final year.

Wooing Developers

“The critical thing is to make financiers some-more gentle with solar projects in India by avoiding retroactive changes and ensuring payments for solar appetite are indeed made,” pronounced Jenny Chase, lead solar researcher with BNEF. “India’s solar marketplace is approaching to accelerate fast as solar gets even cheaper and internal companies and governments benefit experience.”

India’s solar marketplace will arrange fourth in a universe this year, adult from eighth in 2013, BNEF said. Clean-energy investments of all forms in India increasing to $7.9 billion final year and are approaching to transcend $10 billion in 2015, according to estimates from BNEF. China saw $89.5 billion in purify appetite investments in 2014, while a U.S. brought in $51.8 billion.

“India has a vast financing problem since a internal seductiveness rates are really expensive,” pronounced Xie during JA Solar. At a same time “overseas financiers find themselves underneath outrageous vigour since India’s unfamiliar sell rates vacillate widely.”

Coal Rivals

Modi also faces a charge of weaning a republic off a expenditure of coal, a fuel for roughly 60 percent of a electricity that a republic produces. Renewables, including solar and wind, comment for 12 percent, according to a latest supervision figures.

Asia’s second-biggest appetite user has traditionally depended on spark for a power, environment adult vast stations to accommodate rise direct and finish blackouts that can final adult to 10 hours a day in some tools of a country.

Coal India Ltd., that produces some-more than 80 percent of a spark that India produces, skeleton to boost prolongation to 507 million metric tons in a 12 months finale Mar 31. The nation’s spark and appetite minister, Piyush Goyal, has urged a some-more desirous aim to 1 billion tons a year in 5 years.

“A outrageous hurl out of new spark would remove all a good” betrothed by a solar targets and a agreement by Modi and Obama to pull for a phase-out of climate-damaging refrigerants, a environmental organisation Greenpeace said.

Land Use

Even if Modi mollifies spark producers and, with Obama’s backing, gets a appropriation a attention needs, genuine estate is certain to infer to be another challenge.

All those solar farms need land — and lots of it. A standard 20-megawatt plant takes adult about 100 acres of land. Were it to implement all a hoped-for ability in a form of vast solar farms, India’s ambitions meant it contingency carve out 480,000 acres of land — 3 times a stream distance of a capital area of Mumbai, India’s most-populous city.

Of march not all a ability will come in sprawling solar plants. While roughly all of India’s installations to date are ground-mounted farms, Modi’s ambitions will need to rest heavily on rooftop solar, according to a investigate news from Bridge to India Energy Pvt., a New Delhi-based solar advisory.

All a same, Modi’s expostulate hasn’t left neglected by companies eying a republic as one of a subsequent vast renewable plays. SunEdison Inc. has announced skeleton to deposit $4 billion to build a biggest solar row bureau in India.

The manufacturer formed in Maryland Heights, Missouri, is also building breeze and solar appetite projects in a south Indian state of Karnataka.

“What was opposite yesterday was we have a 100 gigawatt series in a context of a corner matter as against to a inhabitant statement, that is of some significance,” Navroz Dubash, a comparison associate during a New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research, pronounced by phone, referring to a Jan. 25 pledge.

Copyroght 2015 Bloomberg

Lead image: US and India flags around Shutterstock

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New California Partnership Launches Statewide PACE Program

26/01/2015 at 5:29 pm | Solar Blog | No comment


The Chula Vista Public Works solar project financed by the Ygrene Energy Fund.

Recognizing the multiple benefits to be had, local, state and the federal governments have introduced energy efficiency incentive and support programs. In 2008 Berkeley, California launched the nation’s first municipal PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program, where property owners repay loans for energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits through property taxes over periods as long as 20 years. Solar photovoltaic (PV) installations are among the most popular kinds of energy-efficiency projects financed through municipal PACE programs.

On January 21, Ygrene Energy Fund and the newly named Golden State Finance Authority (GSFA) launched a program that the partners say will not only make “zero-down” PACE financing available throughout California, but will enable home and business owners to finance energy efficiency, as well as water conservation upgrades and retrofits much easier and faster than ever before. 

Property-assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Finance Programs

PACE programs got off to a flying start following their introduction in Berkeley, and spread out and took root in municipalities in California and other U.S. states. Ongoing disputes with first mortgage lenders — most importantly the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FHLMC) — subsequently stalled PACE financing and threatened to put an end to PACE programs.

Taking concrete steps to address mortgage lenders’ concerns, California revived PACE financing and programs in March 2014 by establishing the $10 million PACE Loss Reserve Program.  Though that hasn’t resolved the issue completely, it was enough to revive PACE financing in California.

Ygrene and GSFA’s partnership is the latest indication that PACE programs are not only surviving, but have lots of room to grow.

Making Energy Efficiency More Affordable and Accessible

Leveraging the Ygrene Works PACE financing platform and GSFA’s experience working with municipal governments, California “cities and counties can now approve Ygrene Works in a single step, making this ground-breaking financing option effortlessly available for energy efficiency and water conservation upgrades to homes and businesses,” the partners stated in a press release.

Some 3.3 million California residents and businesses of all stripes have accessed PACE financing for energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits through Ygrene Works. That includes the installation of 3.5 megawatts (MW) of solar PV capacity.

Ygrene expects that number to swell over the course of 2015, according to Ygrene Energy Fund VP of district development and government affairs Michael Lemyre.

“There has been tremendous interest in PACE financing across the spectrum, and we’ve seen PACE programs really take off in California,” Lemyre highlighted. 

Around $140 million in energy-efficiency upgrades and retrofits have been approved through Ygrene Works to date. Most of them were processed in under 30 minutes via Ygrene Works’ call center, Lemyre noted. 

Energy and Water Savings, Green Jobs and Carbon Reductions

Financing all those energy efficiency projects has resulted in reduced carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. So far, projects financed by Ygrene Works have resulted in approximately 4,500 metric tons of CO2 emissions reductions. Emissions reductions over the projects’ lives are projected to total 81,000 metric tons.

In addition, the energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits financed via the Ygrene Works PACE program have created or sustained over 500 jobs.

“And since the projects pay for themselves over their useful lives, that results in a minimum of $140 million in energy and/or water bill savings to date over two years of project funding,” Lemyre told REW. 

A mix of professional investment organizations are providing the capital Ygrene is using to finance PACE projects. These include hedge and private equity funds, private investment pools, banks, insurance companies and pension fund managers.

A distinguishing feature of the GSFA-Ygrene Works PACE program is that it enables participants to apply for small, single energy-efficiency upgrades and retrofits.

Doing away with stipulations requiring home and business owners to have whole-home or business energy assessments done, as well as others requiring multiple projects to be undertaken, makes having energy-efficiency upgrades and retrofit projects much more affordable, Lemyre and Caroline Holmes, GSFA’s marketing director, pointed out.

As a state Joint Powers Authority, GSFA has provided affordable housing in California for more than 20 years. Formerly known as the California Home Finance Authority, GSFA expanded into the energy efficiency space in 2010. Since that time, GSFA has assisted some 1,275 California homeowners in financing and carrying out energy efficiency projects. “We are hoping this partnership will make such financing that much more accessible and affordable to homeowners. We see a lot more potential to expand [in the energy efficiency space],” said Holmes.

As a Joint Powers Authority, GSFA represents and provides affordable home ownership programs to 33 California member counties, 20 associate member counties and two additional associate member cities.

To date — prior to the launch of the PACE program in partnership with Ygrene — GSFA has financed $30 million of energy efficiency projects. Project size has averaged $23,000 and resulted in avoiding approximately 97 million BTUs of energy per project, Holmes said. Spanning 44 California counties, GSFA-financed energy efficiency projects have also led to the creation or retention of 300 jobs.

Economy of Scale

Ygrene Works, for its part, is up and running in ten California counties and six cities. Partnering with GSFA should enable Ygrene to scale the program up state-wide in short order, according to Lemyre. 

Approaching local government authorities on its own and convincing them of the merits and comparative advantages of Ygrene Works one by one is a time-consuming and costly process, he pointed out.

“Through our partnership with GSFA, county and municipal authorities can enact a resolution and activate the program with minimal to no staff time and no ongoing expenditures. It offers economy-of-scale on the municipal side of our partnership and lowers the cost of innovation, and it provides a way for local government to launch a program that benefits constituents and property owners,” said Lemyre. “While launching PACE programs in the 40 or so California counties that don’t have one will take some time, perhaps it can take as little as two months. We think that many jurisdictions will participate in 2015.”  

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Solar Impulse route unveiled for first round-the-world flight powered by the sun

26/01/2015 at 5:21 am | Solar Blog | No comment


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Slated for take off in either late February or early March 2015, the Solar Impulse 2 flight is expected to span approximately 25 flight days across 5 months and land in 12 different locations. The single-seater plane will cover approximately 21,748 miles at speeds between 30 and 60 miles per hour. Although it’s not the first solar airplane, the emissions-free Solar Impulse 2 is the most energy efficient aircraft to date and can fly without fuel for five consecutive days and nights—a feat no other plane has ever achieved.

“With our attempt to complete the first solar powered round-the-world flight, we want to demonstrate that clean technology and renewable energy can achieve the impossible,” says Bertrand Piccard, initiator and chairman of Solar Impulse. “We want youth, leaders, organizations and policymakers to understand that what Solar Impulse can achieve in the air, everyone can accomplish here on the ground in their everyday lives. Renewable energy can become an integral part of our lives, and together, we can help save our planet’s natural resources.”

Related: Solar Impulse to Start Around the World Flight from Abu Dhabi Next Year

The round-the-world route will start in Abu Dhabi and include stops in Muscat Oman; Ahmedabad and Varanasi, India; Mandalay, Myanmar; and Chongqing and Nanjing, China. The plane will then fly across the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii and stop in at least three U.S. cities—Phoenix, New York City, and a to-be-determined Midwestern city. Lastly, the plane will cross the Atlantic back to Abu Dhabi, with a stopover in either Southern Europe or North Africa.

+ Solar Impulse

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How to build a solar farm in California—a profile on the Topaz Solar Farm

26/01/2015 at 5:21 am | Solar Blog | No comment


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Solar Panels

With its capacity to power 160,000 average-sized American homes, the Topaz Solar Farm in southern California is one of the largest installations of its kind. This sea of 9 million solar panels is an ideal example of how sunny states like Arizona and Nevada can harness the sun’s power to reduce carbon emissions and create clean energy for residents across the country. Although there have been worries about the possibility that solar farms can damage local ecosystems and disturb endangered species, special considerations have been taken to build them in the most low-impact areas possible, so as not to cause damage to vulnerable animal populations. With solar being the most abundant energy source on the planet, arrays such as this one—placed in the sunniest regions on Earth—can be real game-changers for the evolution of clean power. Click through to read Katie Fehrenbacher’s special report about the Topaz Solar Farm, and see just how bright and sunny our future can be.


Images by Katie Fehrenbacher and SunPower

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