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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.

 

Net Metering, Smart Metering What is Fair to all Parties?

When homeowners install solar on their residences, he/she needs permission from the company that supplies your electricity. There are 578,000 individual solar installations in the U.S. representing less than 2 per cent of the nation’s total capacity. So what is the problem that faces your power provider? The most expressed opposition is due to those homes that have enough solar so that at the end of the year, their electric bill is zero. The power company still provides power when the solar output is insufficient to power the home. Obviously, between sunset and the next sunrise, the home depends on the local power company for its electricity. Yet the power company receives no compensation for the service or for the upkeep of its power system.
As the editor of Power Engineering magazine, February 2015 issue says, “The debate over solar is about creating a just cost structure that is fair to both sides” (provider and user). I believe that such a fair cost structure could be created based on the power delivery and infrastructure upkeep costs.
Take the power delivery issue. The electric power provider is responsible for providing sufficient power based on the residential demand. That responsibility comes with a price. What should the price be based is the issue. Should it be a fixed cost? Should it be based on the amount of energy that the home uses when the solar PV is insufficient? This is a great topic for discussion.

Now the other cost consideration, infrastructure upkeep. Should the pricing of the power delivery be based on the cost of power to the distributor and a separate cost for system infrastructure?
“Consumers Energy is a regulated utility, meaning that the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) approves all rates for electric and natural gas service provided to customers.
Rates are primarily established in two basic regulatory proceedings that address:
The base costs of utility service that incorporate the pipes and wires through which service is delivered and the costs of owning and operating power plants, and, the costs for fuel and purchased power for electric service (power supply) or gas commodity costs.”
(http://www.consumersenergy.com/content.aspx?id=4589)
So now we have an example that separates the cost of electric power and the upkeep cost of providing the system that delivers the power. Every customer tied to the grid should pay for the cost of providing the system upkeep and separately noted on the monthly electric bill. It leaves one nuance remaining; the cost of providing electric power reliably. This cost is a guarantee that you will have electric power at all times and has a value that needs to be defined. Please comment on what you think is a reasonable approach and why.

Our friends at SolarCity are looking for new PV Designers!!

Our friends over at SolarCity are looking for individuals interested in a career as a PV Designer! They will be hiring now until March 18th! Individuals with an engineering degree or previous experience are great but not mandatory. What’s more important is that you’re a quick learner, motivated, and good problem solvers! If this sounds like it would be of interest to you get in contact with us or contact SolarCity for more information. Be sure to act quickly!

Energy program can aid farmers, small businesses

In Tennessee, solar panels are not as common as silos on farms, but recently they have been becoming more and more popular across the Volunteer State.

Tennessee farmers are beginning to take advantage of a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant program promoting renewable energy and energy-efficient projects.

It’s smart for farmers and owners of small businesses to invest and participate in the programs to reduce energy costs and potentially make a few extra dollars selling excess power.

The program USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, is providing grants and loans for renewable energy and energy projects to small businesses in rural areas with a population of 50,000 or less. It is growing in Tennessee, with more than $2 million available for projects state wide just this year, compared to $326,000 last year.

Monroe, Knox, and Loudon counties have been home to two-thirds of the projects in East Tennessee for 2006 to 2014.

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Green Power Provider program, which pays a premium for energy generated by renewable sources has worked hand in hand with the REAP program in the past few years. Unfortunately, TVA is erasing its green power incentives as more money becomes available through REAP for investment in solar and other renewable projects.

Read the article here.

First Solar Inc. and Sunpower Corp are Planning a Joint Venture

(Bloomberg) — First Solar Inc. and SunPower Corp., the two largest U.S. solar-panel manufacturers, are planning a joint venture that will own and operate some of their projects.
The companies expect to register for an initial public offering for the new venture, according to a statement Monday. They didn’t say when that may occur or how much they would seek to raise through the IPO. The shares surged in after-hours trading.
The SunPower-First Solar venture would be part of a growing trend in the renewable-energy industry to pool projects into publicly traded entities that offer shareholders payouts, known as yieldcos. Companies that build power plants, including Abengoa SA and NRG Energy Inc., sell completed projects to their yieldco affiliates and use that capital to fund new power plants.

Read the article here.