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.

Apple Invests In A Large Scale Solar Energy Project

In San Francisco, California—Apple will spend almost $850 million on a solar energy project, potentially generating enough power for their new corporate headquarters, retail stores, and other facilities in California.

This will make Apple the largest consumer of energy from this new solar facility. Constructed on 2,900 acres in rural Monterrey County, south of San Francisco Bay, the facility will have the capacity of 280 megawatts.

CEO Tim Cook said in an investment conference that this project reflects Apple’s concern for climate change.

The project will begin later in the year and finished by the end of 2016.

Read the article here.

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.

Another Step For Solar

For CEO Brad Mattson and CTO Markus Beck of Siva Power, producing gigawatts’ worth of thin-film solar panels through domestic manufacturing is a real possibility. This San Jose, California solar startup company is newly funded and developing the world’s largest-scale and least-expensive thin-film CIGS production line.

The company has received $10 million in new funding, including $3 million DOE SunShot grant, a $3 million conversion of debt financing from Trident Capital, DBL investors, Medley Partners and Acero Capital, as well as $4 million in new capital form the city of Wuxi, China and existing investors DBL, Medley, and Acero.

After focusing on research and development, experimenting with different photovoltaic materials and production processes, Siva has decided on co-evaporated CIGS on large glass substrates. Mattson called the technology “a gift of physics” offering the highest thin film efficiencies and fastest production process.

Siva is in need of $120 million to $150 million to launch is factory. It would be the “world’s first solar giga factory” built on California soil, helping the state reach its new 50 percent renewable goal.

Read the article here.

By Molly Denson

Solar Panel Bicycle Paths

The Netherlands, known for their massive sustainability projects, is now testing solar panels on bicycle paths. Their project named “SolaRoad” is underway this week, testing a new way to collect solar energy. The “cycle-crazy Dutch” are developing the first SolaRoad near Amsterdam. It is built of massive, “Lego-like modules” of solar panels into the concrete with heavy-duty glass on top to protect it. Another great aspect is the translucent plastic coating so bikers don’t slip. Each square yard of road generates about 50-70 kilowatt-hours of energy per year, almost enough for the initial strip of 70 years to supply power to one or two Dutch households. This first test is in Krommenie, said to run three years costing 3 million euros ($3.7 million), funded by the province of North Holland and a couple Dutch companies who are excited to commercialize solar roads. The project is already up and running, and generating electricity before it’s actual opening tomorrow. If this works like planned and brings a sufficient amount of profit against the initial installation costs, this project will hopefully open ideas to other countries willing to make the commitment.

Read the article here.

By Molly Denson

Universities Make A Move Towards Solar Energy

SolarPV_300x2001

In a move to transition to more sustainable energy production American University, George Washington University and George Washington University Hospital are joining together in a plan to provide all three institutions with clean solar energy. The three joined together for a 20 year solar purchase that will supply 123 million kilowatt hours of clean energy each year. The clean energy will be supplied from several large scale solar farms in the surrounding North Carolina area comprised of 243,000 solar panels and will comprise the largest PV project on to the East of the Mississippi River. This partnership will remove roughly 15,000 metric tons of CO2 which equates to the removal of roughly 3,000 cars from the roads. This step forward in energy production by the three institutions will hopefully lay a blueprint for other universities who are wanting to switch to cleaner means of energy production.

Read the full report from the American University here: http://www.american.edu/finance/sustainability/au-to-source-50-percent-power-from-solar.cfm

Ohio State Researchers Invent Solar Battery

By Andre Merino

Researchers at the Ohio State University have invented a solar battery, which combines the applications of a solar cell and battery into one device. In the October 3, 2014 issue of Nature Communications, it is reported that researchers at Ohio State University have succeeded in combining a solar cell and a battery into one device. This solar battery is made possible due to the innovative mesh solar panel design, which allows air to enter the battery, and electrons are transferred between the solar panel and battery electrode. Ohio State University will license the hybrid device to industry, where Yiying Wu, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State, says the solar battery will help tame the costs of renewable energy. He and his students believe that the battery can bring costs down by 25 percent. The U.S. Department of Energy funds the project, and it will continue to advance as researchers find new ways to enhance the battery’s performance with different materials.

Read the full reports here: Batteries included: A solar cell that stores its own power

Integrating a redox-coupled dye-sensitized photoelectrode into a lithium–oxygen battery for photoassisted charging​

Wal-Mart Fights Back Against Renewable Energy

TSEA Walmart

A recent report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance has indicated that the Walton family, majority owners of Wal-Mart, have donated millions of dollars to a handful of organizations over the past few years, many of which have a vested interest in restricting the growth of the solar and renewable energy sectors. Another Walton-owned company, First Solar, was instrumental in the decision to allow one of Arizona’s largest utility companies, APS, to begin imposing additional fees on owners of household rooftop solar systems. These changes caused a sharp decline in solar installations in Arizona despite the fact that Arizona is one of the most productive locations for solar energy. This should serve as a warning that although many corporations may appear to have “gone green”, how their money is spent is a better indication of where their true interests lie.

Full report can be found here.

Solar shows strong growth in second quarter.

Every Tuesday our interns here at TSEA will post and abstract and link to a recent article on news about the solar industry. This is the first of (hopefully) many. Check back often for solar news, info, tips, etc. Also, be sure to follow us on @TNSolarAssoc for updates every week and info about TSEA!

Solar shows strong growth in second quarter.

By William Giese

Solar in general is seemingly more and more like a good investment. According to a recent CBS article (linked below) solar photovoltaic (PV) installations surpasses the gigawatt produced energy mark for the third consecutive quarter. Additionally, significant growth has been seen in the residential solar market, as home solar systems are becoming increasingly more common. Solar energy cost decrease combined with more accessible and efficient systems lead to solar taking the majority share (53%) of new energy generation capacity in 2013. Not only that, but the solar industry is creating more jobs for Americans as our economy continues to recover, adding upwards of 142,000 jobs this year! Even governmental institutions are considering the solar option by adding solar “micro grids” to insulate buildings and facilities from power outages. Please read the CBS article posted below for further information about solar and feel free to contact TSEA as well.

@TNSolarAssoc

will@tnsolarenergy.org

Link: US Solar Power Industry Small But Growing Rapidly

How much fuel does it take to power a 100 watt light bulb for one year?

How much fuel does it take to power a lightbulb

Good Magazine performed an interesting experiment which underscores the benefits of renewables while simultaneously showing off the shortcomings of coal, nuclear and natural gas. It calculated how much energy it would take to keep a 100 watt light bulb burning for an entire year. The results are charted in the infographic below but here is a quick rundown:

Coal: 714 pounds.
Natural Gas: 143 pounds.
Nuclear: 0.35 pounds.
Solar: 8 days, 8 hours and 14 seconds of energy from 100 square meters of solar panels.
Wind: 2 hours, 20 minutes and 9 seconds from a 1.5 MW turbine at 25% capacity.
Hydroelectric: 2 hours and 35 minutes.

Yes, it is an incandescent light bulb.
Forbes Magazine