Archive for July 3, 2012

German Solar Installations Coming In at $2.24 per Watt Installed, US at $4.44

What steps can the U.S. take to keep up with the Johanneses?

According to the BSW, average German system prices in the second quarter of 2012 were estimated at EUR1.776 per watt peak, or $2.24 per watt peak at current exchange rates. Since Germany is dominated by rooftop systems (72 percent of installations in 2011), this is an impressively low number. Assuming a module price of around $0.90 per watt peak, this implies an average balance of system cost of $1.34 per watt peak.

Title: "Solar Energy Systems since 2006 are 65% cheaper" Inside Text: "Average price for rooftop installations up to 100 kW"

GTM Research is currently estimating 2012 installations in Germany to come in at around 6.5 gigawatts, compared to 7.5 gigawatts in 2011.

On the other hand — as just detailed in GTM Research’s U.S. Solar Market Insight – the U.S. average system price was $4.44 per watt in the first quarter of 2011.

Residential system prices fell by 4.8 percent from Q4 2011 to Q1 2012, with the national average installed price falling from $6.18 per watt to $5.89 per watt. Non-residential system prices fell by 6 percent quarter to quarter, from $4.92 per watt to $4.63 per watt. Utility system prices declined for the eighth consecutive quarter in a row, dropping from $3.20 per watt in Q4 2011 to $2.90 per watt in Q1 2012.

This is an enormous discrepancy in the average price per watt in Germany versus the U.S.

Assuming the module and inverter pricing is roughly the same for both countries, the culprit for the high prices in the U.S. lies in the soft costs of permitting and financing, as well as in the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) process. Add in the potential increase in module pricing due to the China trade tariffs, and the U.S. market faces some headwinds in driving down the cost of solar.

Full Article at Green Tech Media

Distributed Pumped Store or Just Hydroelectric Power or Both?

J. Paul Sims, professor at ETSU and TSEA board member has been interested in studying distributed pumped store as part of the integral need for energy storage.  The concept is to run plants at full power during times of heavy demand in anticipation of near term energy needs for hot summers.  No doubt that hot summers like this one are not a fluke.  With a combination of pumped store along with solar, biomass and base plant operations, this may be a less expensive alternative to purchasing outside power.  Now well funded investors are recognizing the investment opportunities in purchasing dams and reservoirs that can be converted to pumped storage thereby adding to their available assets.  Consider the impact of the court decision to upheld the EPA’s authority to regulate green house gases.  Maybe the cost of natural gas fired turbines may not be the best investment if the right of the federal govenment to regulate the public’s health is uphold to a future test by the Supreme court if the electric power companies continue the fight to prevent expensive air pollution controls from being instituted.

The monied investors seem to think that purchasing water containment bodies are a good idea.  So do I.  I am for it IF the resource is managed correctly to take into account any potential environmental damage from the water fluxing.

Take a look at the following article found today knowing that TVA has recently granted leases to some of its stored water bodies.

June 29, 2012

 Source: Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners L.P.  

Cheoah Dam, on the Little Tennessee RiverBrookfield Renewable Energy Partners L.P. (BEP.UN) (Brookfield Renewable) has announced an agreement to acquire, with its institutional partners, a portfolio consisting of four generating stations in Tennessee and North Carolina from Alcoa Power Generating Inc. for a total enterprise value of $600 million, subject to certain price adjustments.

“We believe this acquisition provides a unique opportunity to capture rising electricity prices, and our operating platform and expertise is well-suited to maximize the value of this portfolio over the long term,” added Mr. Legault, President and Chief Executive Officer of Brookfield Renewable..

The Tapoco plants can be operated as daily peaking facilities and benefit from one of the lowest cost of operations in the TVA region, further enhancing their attractiveness and long-term value potential. In 2005, Tapoco was granted a 40 year operating license by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.