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To: brokenst0nes who wrote (12738)2/3/2012 3:42:06 PM
From: Sam
   of 15248
 
Solar shakeouts all over Europe:

Solar shakeout: Bekaert cutting solar wafer wire saw production with 1,250 jobs lost
By Mark Osborne - 03 February 2012, 13:58
In News, Fab & Facilities, Materials
pv-tech.org


Bondholders of Q-Cells to take 95% ownership of the company
By Mark Osborne - 01 February 2012, 13:38
In News, Cell Processing, Thin Film, CIGS, PV Modules, Finance
pv-tech.org


EU countries have essentially funded the Chinese solar sector and wrecked their own. Similar to the US funding (largely, anyway--Europe aided in this) the growth of wealth in Japan and the Four Tigers back in the 80s. There are good things about that and not so good things. In any case, it will be fascinating see how the sector unfolds over the next decade amid all of the booms and busts and technological advances.

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From: Eric2/3/2012 6:53:17 PM
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Rubenius, 1 GW of Energy Storage, Revisited

Layoffs and deployment delays at the ambitious and mysterious Dubai firm, plus a trail of unpaid and unhappy contractors

greentechmedia.com

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From: Eric2/3/2012 6:54:36 PM
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Balancing Hawaiian Wind Power With Demand Response

Honeywell and Hawaiian Electric plan out fast demand response program to balance wind power ups and downs.

greentechmedia.com

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From: Eric2/3/2012 6:55:47 PM
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GM Releases Smart Grid APIs for Chevy Volt, via OnStar

General Motors wants developers to program plug-in Volts for the smart grid.

greentechmedia.com

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From: Eric2/3/2012 7:09:50 PM
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Multinationals Invade Scotland for Offshore Wind Wealth

Samsung follows Mitsubishi and Gamesa to a place where ocean winds will be big money.

greentechmedia.com

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From: Eric2/4/2012 6:22:25 PM
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Executive Roundtable: The Future of Utility-Scale Renewables

Renewable energy in the United States is at a crossroads. With several federal tax grants set to expire by the end of 2012, utilities are trying to decide if the falling prices of solar and wind technology makes renewable energy competitive enough to invest in despite vanishing federal aid.

Lindsay Morris recently discussed the future of renewable energy with four renewable executives: Tom Doyle, president and CEO of NRG Solar; Michael DeAngelis, manager of energy research, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD); Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the Global Wind Energy Council; and Ed Feo, managing partner, USRG Renewable Finance. These renewable energy leaders discussed the possibility of a North America sans renewable tax grants, the pros and cons of low-cost manufacturing of PV modules, the role of renewable energy in light of the natural gas revolution, and more.

How will the removal of the 1603 Treasury Grant affect renewable energy developments? Will we see more state renewable programs popping up to encourage renewable growth?

Mike DeAngelis: The 1603 Treasury Grant Program is a significant incentive to renewable energy development. At SMUD, we’re in the final stages of negotiating sale and buyback agreements for our new 120 MW wind project in Solano that is now under construction. The sale is to a private party. The 1603 Program is a very important part of the deal.

Ed Feo: I agree that the 1603 has been a significant program for renewables over the last two years. As of September 2011, the Department of Treasury reports that almost 20,000 projects have been funded for a total of more than $9 billion since the program began in 2009. Let’s assume for the sake of this discussion that the grant is not renewed or replaced with something very similar to it. If you do the math and back out the amount of the grant based tax equity transactions, the tax equity market suddenly falls from a volume of over $7 billion to around $3.6 billion.

Another factor affecting the tax equity market is the expiration of the Production Tax Credits (PTC) at the end of 2012. What we’re seeing is a pretty significant acceleration of wind development financing into 2012 that might otherwise have fallen to 2013. This acceleration of development and financing in wind will actually put more pressure on the tax equity market in 2012, and could have the effect of increasing pricing for the available tax equity.

Tom Doyle:I think you’re going to see different types of development going forward. The large scale, utility-type development activity is going to be impacted the most by the loss of the 1603 grant. I think there will still be tax equity markets available for smaller projects.

Will there be a time when renewable energy no longer needs government subsidies?

Doyle: The way we’re developing our business plan, we absolutely assume that there will be a point in time over the next five years when renewable energy no longer needs government subsidies. We see a lot of markets from a retail price perspective where solar projects can achieve grid parity without government subsidies. In fact, we’ve studied the U.S. market and believe that within the next three to four years, there are more than 20 states where we can compete without government subsidies.

DeAngelis:Regarding declining costs, we have really seen some of the renewable energy technologies moving down the price curve as production economies, learning curve progress, and innovation occurs over time. As that continues, I think we’re going to see excellent competitive prices from wind and solar PV.

Steve Sawyer:We have successful wind developments in New Zealand, Mexico and Brazil without any government subsidies of the kind that we’re used to seeing in the U.S. If we’re talking about a level playing field, I think that wind and solar in many locations are ready to compete right now.

How do low natural gas prices and the overall “natural gas boom” affect the renewable energy market in the U.S.?

Doyle: From my perspective, low natural gas prices force us to sharpen our pencils and focus more aggressively on ways that we’re going to be able to drive down costs. I actually think low natural gas prices have been a benefit to the renewable space because I think we’ve all seen what’s happened with respect to prices in a very short amount of time. I do believe at some point in time, we’re going to see gas prices elevate north of the $4 level, and that’s only going to be an upside for a renewable space that has already worked out a lot of the major issues to drive down costs and achieve grid parity.

DeAngelis:I think it’s true that increased natural gas supply and low prices will make it more difficult for renewables to compete in the U.S. And though natural gas is certainly much better than coal and petroleum in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, it still results in significant carbon emissions. If California is going to meet an overall goal of 80 percent reduction (of greenhouse gases) by 2050, then that means eventually reductions in natural gas use would be needed also.

Feo: The RPS programs really put renewables off in a separate procurement bucket so you don’t have this head-to-head competition between natural gas and renewables. But natural gas does affect what the price of power is, and that in turn affects what’s going to be considered an acceptable price for renewables. I think on the natural gas side, the impact is potentially greater on coal than it is for renewables, with gas becoming the dominant fossil fuel. It may be more of a battle between coal and natural gas than between natural gas and renewables.

Sawyer: Slow – painfully slow – the world is moving to price carbon emissions. When you compare just the combustion of gas and coal, the advantage for gas is quite substantial, but when you include the fugitive emissions from the hydro-fracking process, the situation changes dramatically.

On the manufacturing side, does it look like the majority of technology will continue to come from other countries? If the U.S. were to gain the upper hand in the renewable technology market, would that be beneficial to American renewable developers?

I think it’s hard to have a crystal ball on this topic. Particularly China has become a major force in photovoltaics and may be becoming significant also in wind manufacturing. The Solyndra issue aside, I think the jury is still out concerning U.S. innovation and U.S. subsidies and whether they can overtake the government subsidies from other countries and the cheap labor applied to traditional wind and solar PV technologies. But yes, if the U.S. renewable growth continues, that’s certainly going to help support the industry and the economy in this country.

Sawyer: I can’t speak for PV, but I do not believe it will ever be the case that any significant percentage of the wind turbines erected in the U.S. will come from other countries. The economics of wind means that anything other than quite a small quantity will be shipped around the world.

Feo: Having been at SPI and having walked around the exhibit hall, I think it was noteworthy to see how many manufacturers were there from Asia, but also from Europe and the U.S. It was quite the drama to have the SolarWorld case announced in the middle of the conference. I think it’s going to be fascinating to watch that case develop—is this a matter of selling panels cheaper in the US than at home, or simply a matter of more efficient manufacturing taking control of the market? The commentary thus far from developers is that they love that competition among manufacturers, whether it’s fair or unfair. At the end of the day, the competition results in lower prices and the ability to do more projects at competitive rates. If prices were to be increased, fewer projects would be economic.

Doyle: One thing that people need to appreciate is that there are different types of PV manufacturing. I think what you’re going to see more of going forward in the U.S. is module assembly. It’s a low-cost effort that really does make it appear as though you’re fabricating in-country. I think the cell manufacturing will continue to come largely from China.

I will echo what Ed said as far as would it be beneficial to American renewable developers if we had more technology developed in?house? I don’t think it really matters that much. I think what’s important to developers right now is the intense competition to drive down PV panel pricing. It’s such an aggressive market that it’s significantly surpassed our expectation of what we thought we could see as a buyer of PV products.

DeAngelis: There are technology improvements going on in wind very clearly right now – direct drive, new materials/components and other improvements. But inherently, wind has been penetrating grid-connected markets for a much longer amount of time than photovoltaics. I think there’s a whole series of PV technologies, particularly thin films and some of the concentrators that are still in the development stage. The more developed countries, with high labor costs and the resources to manufacture advanced, innovative technologies, can become competitive compared to the traditional sliced crystalline cell technologies that might require more labor provided in countries such as China.

renewableenergyworld.com

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From: Eric2/4/2012 7:06:29 PM
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After December Spike, PV Module Prices Set to Decline in 2012
By James Montgomery, News Editor, Photovoltaics World

New Hampshire, U.S.A. -- "Desperate" installers rushing to complete installations ahead of FiT reductions in key end-markets caused a 7% spike in PV module prices in December, but look for a return to familiar pricing pressure within just a month, according to IMS Research.

Germany, in particular, was a major culprit as it added 3GW in the month alone. But the analyst firm's latest monthly pricing report. which polls PV module pricing from suppliers, integrators, installers and distributors, suggests these pricing increases are only temporary, with both buyers and suppliers expecting price drops again within the month.

Even if temporary, that December price spike was welcomed after price pressures during most of the year; prices in September had eroded by more than a third since the end of 2010. That, compounded by high channel inventories, caused many manufacturers and distributors to write-down inventory and sometimes sell at a loss. Prices of c-Si modules direct from manufacturers were only up by 1% (their first positive month), though on the other end of the chain distributors were able to get as much as a 22% markup on c-Si modules, double the previous month, notes IMS' senior market analyst Sam Wilkinson.

So what does 2012 hold for c-Si module pricing? At least to start, more of the same price pressure seen in 2011. IMS' monthly survey finds that distributors, on average, expect a -4% decline in January -- but their customers expect more than double that amount for the month.

renewableenergyworld.com


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From: Eric2/4/2012 7:29:14 PM
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SOLAR INDUSTRY ANNOUNCES AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN UTILITY SCALE SOLAR POWER GENERATION 2012

By Amber Williams | February 3, 2012

Solar Power Generation USA Awards Recognize Projects and Breakthroughs Leading the Next Stage of American Solar

Las Vegas, USA – Solar Power Generation USA (www.solarpowergenerationusa.com), the industry's leading utility-scale solar power conference, today announced the winners of its Solar Power Generation Awards

The 2012 winners in the four categories are First Solar, Inc for PV Project of the Year, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System for CSP Project of the Year, Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative for Solar Utility of the Year, and Soitec for CPV Breakthrough Achievement of the Year. These awards, chosen by the industry, recognize achievements in the field of utility scale solar power generation in the US.

“These four award winners have helped advance technology in the industry, shown us new ways to secure financing, and are setting records and inspiring the industry. We can all learn from their leadership and excellence,” said Laura Dinnewell, Director of Solar Power Generation USA.

The awards came in the middle of the fourth annual Solar Power Generation (SPG) USA conference. Named the 2011 “Best American Conference” by the Conference Awards, SPG is featuring more than 60 subject matter experts speaking across four dedicated channels: Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), Photovoltaic (PV), Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV), and Operation and Maintenance (O&M). Hundreds of senior-level leaders in project development and finance, solar technologies, policy, utilities and grid connection will decide the future of solar in the US during the SPG event, which runs through February 2 in Las Vegas.

More about each award recipient is below.

First Solar, Inc.’s Agua Caliente – PV Achievement of the Year

Located 65 miles east of the city of Yuma, Arizona, First Solar, Inc’s Agua Caliente project is expected to be the largest operational photovoltaic (PV) plant in the world upon completion in 2014. When fully operational, the project will generate enough clean solar energy to serve the needs of about 100,000 average American homes a year, displacing approximately 220,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually – the equivalent of taking nearly 40,000 cars off the road. Agua Caliente is designed to have low environmental and visual impacts. Mounted to metal racks, the solar panels will stand no higher than six feet above ground and will be able to withstand the high winds of the region. Construction planning for the project included the implementation of appropriate dust control measures, as well as truck routes that minimize traffic. Agua Caliente will generate state and local tax revenues, and create up to 400 construction jobs through its completion, in addition to approximately 16 ongoing jobs in monitoring and operations.

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System – CSP Achievement of the Year

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (Ivanpah) is currently the world’s largest CSP plant under construction. When completed, it will double the amount of solar thermal electricity produced in the US. The project has secured not only a US Department of Energy loan guarantee but also $168 million from Google and $300 million for NRG Solar LLC as equity investors. Ivanpah offers a great example of how a large-scale project, if well structured, can still attract the necessary investment to succeed, bucking the trend of financing difficulties. A project of this scale will also help drive down the cost of CSP, and through power purchase agreements with Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric Company will help bring California closer to its goal of producing 33 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020.

Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative – Utility of the Year

The majority of Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative’s (KIUC) power generation today still comes from fossil fuels, but the utility is making big steps to expand its renewable capabilities. Using funds previously allocated for a combustion turbine generator, KIUC announced plans at the end of 2011 to develop a 12MW PV farm with REC Solar, Inc. With the new facility, the utility will have approximately 20MW of PV available to its system. KIUC will also be integrating a battery energy storage system to handle intermittency issues. When the project is successfully developed, KIUC anticipates having more PV concentration than any utility in the US.

Soitec – CPV Breakthrough Achievement of the Year

Soitec, named “one of the leading CPV players” in 2011 by GreentechMedia, recently announced new, utility-scale power purchase agreements totaling 305 MW for projects with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) in 2011. Soitec’s Concentrix™ concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) technology was selected in early 2011 by Tenaska Solar Ventures to produce 150 MW of clean energy as part of a new solar power plant, the Imperial Solar Energy Center (ISEC) West, to be constructed on a 1057-acre site in Southern California’s Imperial County. This project is expected to be completed in 2015 and generate more than 1,000 jobs in Imperial Valley. SDG&E subsequently signed an additional 155 MW of solar power projects with Soitec located within San Diego County. These contracts received CPUC approval by the end of 2011. To support these and other projects, in March of last year, Soitec announced plans to locate and has begun construction on its first North American CPV factory in San Diego, representing an investment in excess of $160 million. The facility is planned to be operational by the end of 2012. With a capacity of 200 MW per year, the San Diego factory will provide more than 450 direct jobs for the region. According to Sarah Kurtz, a principal scientist with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, it is the largest plant for concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) announced anywhere to date.



The full SPG agenda and attendance logistics can be found at www.solarpowergenerationusa.com, by following SPG on Twitter at @SolarPowerGenUS< http://twitter.com/#!/SolarPowerGenUS> and #SPG12, and by joining the LinkedIn Solar Power Generation USA 2012 group< http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=3369953&trk=anet_ug_hm

renewableenergyworld.com

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From: Eric2/4/2012 7:35:31 PM
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Death to PV Subsidies

By Tim Keating, Contributor

February 3, 2012 | Post Your Comment

Candidates should pledge to end all Federal subsidies for all forms of electricity generation by the end of 2016.

Unsubsidized solar photovoltaic (PV) systems already produce electricity – in some parts of the world – less expensively than coal and gas-fired power plants. As PV system prices decline it's inevitable that subsidies will end. Rapid decline or outright disappearance has already been seen in all the major solar markets except China and India.

The usual strategy for subsidized industries is to fight to increase or extend their subsidy. I suggest that the opposite approach is the right one for the U.S. solar industry to take in the run-up to the 2012 elections. The PV industry should ask candidates for President and Congress to pledge to end all Federal subsidies for all forms of electricity generation by the end of 2016.

The truth is that the subsidies the nuclear and fossil-fueled generators receive — and have received for years — are the only things that make their product “affordable.” Those subsidies take many forms, but the most significant are their “externalities.” Externalities are REAL costs, but they are foisted off on all of us instead of being paid by the companies that caused them.

Earlier this year the nyas.org Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences published an article by Dr. Paul Epstein, director of Harvard Medical School Center for Health and the Global Environment titled “ Full Cost Accounting for the Life Cycle of Coal.” The article presented measurements of the health and environmental impacts of coal, including: mining, transportation, combustion in power plants and the impact of coal’s waste stream. The authors found that the life cycle effects of coal and its waste cost the American public $333 billion to over $500 billion dollars annually. This study outlines the costs the coal industry is not paying and what everyone else is paying! What would eliminating that subsidy do to the price of coal-fired electricity?

The math isn’t hard. The United States generated 1,755,904GWh of electricity from coal in 2009, the last year for which figures from the EIA are available. That means each kWh from coal burdened our nation’s people and environment with $.28 of costs. Eliminate the subsidy and coal-fired electricity doesn’t cost six cents per kWh, it costs thirty-four cents. Unsubsidized solar can beat that price anywhere in the U.S.

I believe a carbon fee and dividend is the fairest, most transparent and politically viable method to de-externalize the costs of using fossil fuel to generate electricity. Under this approach, a fee is levied on coal, oil and natural gas based on the costs of remediating their environmental and health impacts. That’s the “fee” part.

The dividend part is that all the fees collected would be paid out to the American people, with every citizen and permanent resident getting an equal share. This would be virtually identical to the way Alaska’s Permanent Fund has been paying each state resident an annual dividend based on their fair share of the state’s oil revenue. The 2010 Permanent Fund Dividend was $1,281.

If we divided $500 billion among 300 million citizens and permanent residents, the annual dividend would be $1667 per person or $6667 for a family of four. Americans could choose whether to spend this money on expensive coal-fired power – or to switch to solar, wind or other non-polluting sources of electricity. I’m confident that most Americans would do the right thing. Within a year of getting that first dividend check, a million new solar installers would be working in every corner of the country. Let’s demand a level playing field for all generation technologies! Death to subsidies by the end of 2016!

renewableenergyworld.com

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From: Eric2/6/2012 9:15:36 AM
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'Green' solar cell is made from plants

news.cnet.com

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