Monday, March 22nd, 2010
Thanks to a new TXU Energy and SolarCity partnership residents of Dallas, Texas will soon have the option to lease a photovoltaic solar array to offset high-energy cost. Similar programs are in place around the world, but in Texas where sprawling suburbs are common and air conditioning in the summer means sky rocketing fuel costs the potential savings for consumers could be astronomical.
After tax incentives the average owner of a three to four bedroom house can expect to pay 35 dollars a month in energy costs. $35 is a far cry from the $26,000 it could cost to buy the same solar system outright.
As the owners of the solar arrays SolarCity will be responsible for all maintenance.
Friday, March 19th, 2010
During the 2010 Solar Power Finance & Investment Summit in San Diego, a large crowd learned that Chinese companies have cash and interest in the US solar energy market, yet partnerships require patience and low risk.
To explore the opportunities, R. Thomas Hoffmann, Partner with Ballard Spahr, led a panel with three experts on Chinese solar investing. They were:
- Jimmy Chuang, is with GCL Solar, the largest polysilicon producer in Asia and the largest solar developer in China. GCL has access to $4.5 billion.
- K. Scott Son, Vice President of Project Finance at Suntech, the largest producer of silicon PV in the world (nearly $2 billion in revenue in 2008).
- Sha Wang, Principal at Cybernaut Investment, a family company with US and Chinese roots and a $500 million solar investment fund.
Tuesday, March 16th, 2010
California recently approved the decision of a state-wide solar heating program consisting of almost $360 million financial incentives and market development funding by 2018. This initiative will soon be followed by rest of the country that lagged behind the world in installing solar thermal systems.
Global statistics show that the solar thermal industry is taking large steps in fulfilling heating and cooling demand in the world. Most of the countries around the world have adopted incentive programs for both solar water heating and space heating. Whereas in some countries, solar thermal systems have been widely utilized for so many years even without incentives.
The most important decision criteria for a household to install a solar thermal system is basically the payback times of their investment. The main driving factors of the investment payback time are the total cost of the systems and the cost of alternatives heating systems. (more…)
Monday, March 15th, 2010
The harnessing of solar energy is expanding on every front as concerns about climate change and energy security escalate, as government incentives for harnessing solar energy expand, and as these costs decline while those of fossil fuels rise. One solar technology that is really beginning to take off is the use of solar thermal collectors to convert sunlight into heat that can be used to warm both water and space.
China, for example, is now home to 27 million rooftop solar water heaters. With nearly 4,000 Chinese companies manufacturing these devices, this relatively simple low-cost technology has leapfrogged into villages that do not yet have electricity. For as little as $200, villagers can have a rooftop solar collector installed and take their first hot shower.
This technology is sweeping China like wildfire, already approaching market saturation in some communities. Beijing plans to boost the current 114 million square meters of rooftop solar collectors for heating water to 300 million by 2020. (more…)
Friday, March 12th, 2010
Bubble, Bubble, Methane is Trouble: A vast storehouse of methane under the Arctic Ocean has perforated and is starting to leak, researchers disclosed. While scientists have long been preoccupied with methane release from permafrost on mainland Siberia, the underwater stores in the adjoining East Siberian Arctic Shelf are much larger, and the release of even a small fraction could lead to a dramatic increase in global warming. Methane is a greenhouse gas at least 25 times more powerful than CO2.
Now a Word from Our Other Gases: It was a promising week in the world of fuels. A Colorado startup revealed a solar concentrator that can vaporize biomass and make high-yield synthetic fuels. British scientists explored enzymes in the gut of a boat-eating bug that could break down straw or waste wood. Meanwhile, a California newbie called Transonic Combustion claims to have invented a fuel-injection system that could boost mileage of plain old gas by 50 percent. The company registered 64 miles to the gallon in recent test drives. (more…)
Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
A U.S. startup has developed a process that uses concentrated solar heat to vaporize biomass into synthetic fuels, a system the company says is cleaner and more efficient and can produce twice as much fuel per ton of biomass as existing systems.
In the process, a network of solar mirrors direct sunlight at a mounted gasifying unit, heating ceramic tubes to 1,200 to 1,300 degrees Celsius. (more…)
Sunday, March 7th, 2010
The Unstoppable…Solar Lobby?! A skirmish this week in Arizona revealed that the solar industry, while still adolescent, is developing some political brawn. A bill in the state legislature proposed expanding the definition of “renewable” to include nuclear power, a move that would have allowed the state’s lone nuclear plant to fulfill Arizona’s mandate to receive 15% of its electricity from renewables. Solar companies howled, including Suntech Power Holdings, which threatened to cancel its first U.S. factory in Arizona. Days later, the proposal was retired.
Wal-mart to Suppliers: Go Green or Else Wal-mart announced a goal of cutting 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chain by the end of 2015. By using its unparalleled purchasing leverage, Walmart intends to force greener behavior on the part of its vendors, like it or not. (more…)
Thursday, March 4th, 2010
Mark Chen is the director of marketing at Abound Solar, a Colorado-based manufacturer of thin-film cadmium telluride solar modules. Cleantechies sat him on the hot seat for three questions:
CleanTechies: Unlike many photovoltaic (PV) companies, you are manufacturing in the United States. Tell me about the company’s decision to do that.
Mark Chen: Abound Solar was founded in Colorado in 2007 based on research conducted at Colorado State University for over 15 years. Abound Solar’s manufacturing technology features a continuous semiconductor deposition process on a fully-automated production line. Our geographic roots and low labor content allow us to be competitive despite higher hour wages in the United States
CleachTechies: Can the United States compete with China’s photovoltaic industry? What advantages do you offer?
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
After making his fortune with Idealab and a host of technology start-ups, Bill Gross has turned his attention to renewable energy. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Gross talks about the solar power plant technology his company eSolar is developing and about the future of solar.
Bill Gross is not your typical solar energy entrepreneur. In a business dominated by Silicon Valley technologists and veterans of the fossil fuel industry, Gross is a Southern Californian who made his name in software. His Idealab startup incubator led to the creation of companies such as eToys, CitySearch, and GoTo.com. The latter pioneered search advertising — think Google — and was acquired by Yahoo for $1.6 billion in 2003.
That payday has allowed Gross to pursue his green dreams. (As a teenager, he started a company to sell plans for a parabolic solar dish he had designed.) Over the past decade, Gross has launched a slew of green tech startups, including solar power plant builder eSolar, electric car company Aptera, and Energy Innovations, which is developing advanced photovoltaic technology. (more…)
Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
Imagine a lightweight, flexible solar cell that could be built into your clothing, allowing you to charge the batteries on gadgets from iPods to smart phones with a little help from the sun.
A team of researchers at the California University Institute of Technology (Caltech) has developed a new, super bendy solar cell made from silicon wire arrays grown on a silicon base.
The new cells enhance the absorption of sunlight and converts photons into electrons using less than half of the amount of expensive crystalline silicon used by conventional solar cells.
Harry Atwater, Howard Hughes Professor, professor of applied physics and materials science, and director of Caltech’s Resnick Institute focusing on sustainability research , led the team in the development of the new solar cells. Atwater said the flexible cells are so rugged they can be rolled up as opposed to traditional solar cells that are made from thin, brittle wafers. (more…)