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Solar Power Sees 30% Increase Over Last Year

Peery family dentistry in Lynchburg, Virginia installs 1,430 square feet of solar panels to new office property in 2014.

Peery family dentistry in Lynchburg, Virginia installs 1,430 square feet of solar panels to new office property in 2014.

 

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research, U.S. solar power grew by 6.2 gigawatts in 2014, a 30% increase over the previous year–representing nearly $18 billion in new investment. Thousands of new photovoltaic (PV) arrays in homes, schools, businesses and utilities, as well as large concentrated solar power facilities raised the U.S.’s profile as one of the world’s leading adopters of solar power.

“Shayle Kann, senior vice president at GTM Research, noted that in just five years, the U.S. PV market—which does not include concentrated solar plants—has witnessed a fourfold expansion, from an estimated $3 billion in 2009 to $13.4 billion last year.”

Solar energy accounted for 32 percent of the nation’s new generating capacity in 2014, surpassing both coal and wind energy. Emerging solar states and large utilities desiring to take up renewable energy options are reasons for such increase, in addition the growing popularity of third-party leases offered by firms like SolarCity and Sunrun.

“Today the U.S. solar industry has more employees than tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter combined,” Rhone Resch, SEIA’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Many states have developed well-established solar markets in the last year, leading to the residential sector adding 1.2 GW of capacity in 2014, surpassing its previous annual record of 1 GW.

States rising in the solar ranks include New Mexico, Missouri, Maryland, New York, Texas and Hawaii, each adding close to 100 MW of solar capacity in 2014.

The southeast saw an increase as well. Tennessee and Georgia experienced increases in utility-scale solar and Louisiana and South Carolina sustained growth in the residential sector.

A continued boom is expected in U.S. solar markets is expected, with a projected 31% growth target for 2015.

 

The Carport of The Future

With more than 40 percent of the pavement in an average city tied up in parking areas, it’s safe to say that garages and carports are all around us. Many urban areas are changing the way these concrete blocks are being viewed–one solar panel addition at a time. Solar panel carports have the ability to incredibly impact energy-production all while looking like something straight out of the future.
Certain high-profile corporations and universities have given the special carports a whirl and have since generated an abundance of power. Rutgers University in Piscataway, NJ, currently houses the largest solar parking canopy project in the U.S. With a 28-acre installation, it is no wonder over 60% of the campus’ annual electricity is provided for by the plant. With such incredible amounts of energy produced at Rutgers University by way of “solar parking”, many are left to wonder why similar additions have yet to be started in their area. The discouraging factor for such projects, as stated by Chase Weir of TruSolar, is money. Weir goes on to say, such projects are “The most expensive type of system to build”. Solar carports may be impressively beneficial and aesthetically awing, however there is no denying they are also incredibly expensive…“So at least for now, the market remains relatively niche.”

Read the article here.

New Thin-Film Solar Cell May Provide Electricity at Grid Parity Using Gallium Arsenide Solar Cells

Global Photonic Energy Corp. (GPEC), has created a thin-film solar cell that has the ability to provide electricity at grid parity or the cost of traditionally provided electricity.
Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) is a better photovoltaic candidate than silicon reaching 30% or better efficiency. Problem with Gallium Arsenide cells is that they are very expensive to manufacture in large sizes. Instead these cells are used in concentrating solar PV arrays where the sun image is concentrated some 500 times focusing the light onto a small millimeter sized GaAs cell.

Dr. Stephen R. Forrest of the University of Michigan said the breakthrough, presented at the Fall Meeting of the Materials Research Society, is the result of substantially reduced production costs. It is based on a patent-pending invention that reuses the same Gallium Arsenide wafer multiple times to produce solar cells. This unlimited wafer reuse approach to conventional “epitaxial lift off” technology that typically leads to wafer damage, and hence only a very limited number (1 to 2) of wafer reuses, has the potential to reduce the cost of a typical Gallium Arsenide solar cell to below $1 per Watt (peak).

“This exciting development implies that ultra-high efficiency solar cells based on Gallium Arsenide can eventually produce electricity at or below grid parity.” Dr. Forrest stated. “Using integrated solar concentrators and our adhesive-free, cold-weld bonding technology to plastic substrates, we estimate electricity could be produced as low as $0.45 cents per Watt, compared to traditional grid parity of $1 per Watt.”

GPEC is excited by the discovery. With this new discovery, the cost structure is dramatically reduced and can be used in numerous applications. The high efficiency, light weight and flexible solar cells are deployed on roll up plastic sheets. GPEC anticipates their use in spot powering vehicles, mobile military equipment and satellites, and off-grid locations. The company has big plans and want to license its intellectual property in order to commercialize the technology. To date, GPEC has a total of 425 patents.

TSEA Welcomes Brazetek as our Latest Business Member

Brazetek.com is the largest internet distributor of solar water to air, brazed plate, and shell & tube heat exchangers. The website’s product selection, competitive pricing and free shipping option has made it an online destination of choice for residential, commercial, or industrial heat transfer solutions. This is our first solar thermal business member.