Archive for March 16, 2012
Twin Creeks, a solar power startup that emerged from hiding today, has developed a way of creating photovoltaic cells that are half the price of today’s cheapest cells, and thus within reach of challenging the fossil fuel hegemony. The best bit: Twin Creeks’ photovoltaic cells are created using a hydrogen ion particle accelerator.
3-millimeter-thick silicon wafers are placed around the outside edge of the big, spoked wheel. A particle accelerator bombards these wafers with hydrogen ions, and with exacting control of the voltage of the accelerator, the hydrogen ions accumulate precisely 20 micrometers from the surface of each wafer. A robotic arm then transports the wafers to a furnace where the ions expand into hydrogen gas, which cause the 20-micrometer-thick layer to shear off. A metal backing is applied to make it less fragile (and highly flexible, as you see on the right), and the remaining silicon wafer is taken back to the particle accelerator for another dose of ions. At a tenth of the thickness and with considerably less wastage, it’s easy to see how Twin Creeks can halve the cost of solar cells.
First Solar and Suntech led in PV module manufacturing in 2011, with both reaching approximately 2 GW of module production, according to Lux Research’s latest Solar Supply Tracker.
Crystalline silicon module prices continue to be at a record low, the report adds. Tier-one manufacturers are selling at around $0.90/W, while tier-two and tier-three manufacturers have sold product at even lower rates in order to burn through their inventories and survive the current market conditions.
The top 10 companies added up to 12.5 GW of module production – 44% of the 2011 total global module production.
DOE Webinar March 19: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Topics Proposed for Small Business Funding
The Energy Department will present a live webinar on Monday, March 19, that will provide detailed information on energy efficiency and renewable energy R&D topics for small businesses interested in an upcoming funding opportunity. The webinar will feature an introduction by Dr. Henry Kelly, DOE’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Entitled Topics for DOE’s FY 2012 SBIR/STTR Phase I (Release 3), this webinar will provide an overview of energy efficiency and renewable energy topics proposed to be included in the third release of fiscal year 2012 Phase I funding from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The webcast will take place on Monday, March 19, from 2-4 p.m. Eastern.
Renewvia Energy Corporation, a provider of solar power systems, announced today it closed an investment fund to finance the installation of a 200 Kilowatt (kW) solar power system in Georgia under the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Green Power Switch Partners Program, a plan which promotes production of electricity from renewable sources.
Under a 10 year site lease, the solar power system will be hosted in Calhoun, Ga. on a multi-generational poultry farm. After 10 years, ownership will be conveyed to the poultry operation. The TVA, a federally owned corporation in the United States that provides electricity generation, among other things, in the Tennessee Valley, will guarantee the purchase of all solar power produced there for 10 years at $0.12 per kilowatt per hour at premium indexed to the local retail power rate.
CROSSVILLE — Students in the building construction technology program at Tennessee Technology Center at Crossville have completed the 2015 Energy Star Concept Home and are ready to show their work to the community. A dedication is set for noon Friday, followed by an open house during the weekend, coinciding with the annual Home Builders Association of Cumberland County Home Show.
“We know this is the first net-zero home in the county,” said Steve Lane, instructor. “It may be the first in the state.”
A fight is heating up in the Tennessee Legislature that has green energy companies decrying what they consider a major tax increase as Republicans look to eliminate an incentive for solar and other renewable power.
Senate Bill 3296/House Bill 3520 would get rid of a provision allowing for solar and other green energy installations to have their taxation based on a small percentage of their salvage value. The provision — pushed originally by the administration of former Gov. Phil Bredesen — means there’s nearly no taxation, part of an effort to subsidize renewable energy in Tennessee.
Republicans pushing to eliminate the tax arrangement dispute the idea that it will amount to a new tax. Sen. Randy McNally, who chairs the Senate Finance Ways and Means Committee and is among those pushing the legislation, said the state believes very few businesses will be affected. “I don’t think there’s a lot of people that meet that standard,” he said.
Proponents of the new legislation say taxpayers are supposed to apply for a little-used state green certification. With little use, McNally said, the legislation amounts to a closure of a tax loophole that makes the system more fair to industry overall.
The Stabenow (D-MI) amendment, which would have extended the 1603 Treasury Program and a host of other renewable incentives, was rejected by a 49-49 vote. All the Republican senators voted against the amendment while the Democrats voted for the amendment except for the two Democratic senators from Virginia. The vote was 49 to 49. It required 6o votes for passage.
The good news was the the Senate also rejected the DeMint (R-SC) amendment by a 26-72 margin. The DeMint amendment would have rescinded a host of clean energy tax incentives, including the solar ITC.
The following letter summarizes the position of those who oppose subsidizing renewable energy that all of us involved in promoting solar PV should read and review the arguments against support for renewables. Unless we can counter these arguments we will not be prepared to influence our legislators as to the future of such legislation today or in the future. Steve Levy TSEA
This letter to Congress was sent by American Energy Alliance, Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Freedom Action, The National Center for Public Policy Research, and Sixty Plus Association. It is reproduced here for its educational value in the general debate over special government favor to politically correct energies.
We strongly oppose extending the production tax credit and reviving the 1603 Treasury grant program. The U.S. is risking the energy equivalent of the housing meltdown through a continuation of these policies. Electricity prices are already increasing and these programs will only fuel the increase. Other nations’ economies are already reeling from the much higher electricity prices such sources mean for industry and families.
Very soon the U.S. Senate will hold two important votes that have the potential to significantly impact America’s solar industry.
The Senate is slated to consider an amendment offered by U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to a pending transportation bill that would extend a host of clean energy provisions, including the Section 1603 Treasury Program.
In addition, the Senate will consider an amendment offered by U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) that would sunset a host of renewable energy incentives, including the current law solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Here is our answer to the call for action.
We represent the interests of bringing solar to the citizens of Tennessee. As such we ask that you consider reinstituting the provision in the tax code known as 1603 which permits a tax grant for installing solar systems. Why? Because $3 billion dollars a year leaves the state to pay for fuel to power our electric power generation whereas solar energy is free and creates jobs here in the state. TVA has done a good job in getting the citizens here to donate their hard earned money to purchase green power blocks to pay for the solar program. By the end of the year Tennessee will have installed 50 megawatts of solar power. These solar installations will be producing electric power with no fuel cost for the next 40 to 50 years. If the citizens of this state are willing to donate their money to a source of electric power for which they do not receive any personal reward, why not make solar more affordable for our state? Help us bring in an industry that will create jobs and a clean future for our children? With the latest poll showing 9 out of 10 Americans support solar, across the political spectrum, we ask that you act in behalf of the people’s wishes and reinstitute the 1603 tax grant and stop those who want to send money out of our state to continue the status quo.