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Solar Industry performance,global PV market shares and the 'How to' and 'Top 10' of the latest solar technology.

Updated: 2018-04-10T12:56:32.490+01:00


A new record in solar panel efficiency


21.7% a new record in solar panel efficiency

A new solar photovoltaic conversion efficiency record of 21.4% was recently set, thanks to the innovations of researchers at EPFL’s Institute of Microengineering in Neuchatel. The research team, led by professor Christophe Ballif, director of the Photovoltaics Laboratory (PVlab), recently presented their work at the European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition that just happened in Frankfurt.
Thin-film solar cells are the specialization of the PVlab, and for the past few years they have been working on “hybrid technologies, better known as heterojunction technologies,” these are “hybrids” designed to enhance the performance of solar captors. “We apply an infinitesimal layer — one hundredth of a micron — of amorphous silicon on both sides of a crystalline silicon wafer,” says Christophe Ballif. The structure of this ‘sandwich’ helps to contribute to the sensors’ effectiveness.
In order for this to work efficiently, the interface that’s between the two different types of silicon needs to be optimized.
“Antoine Descoeudres managed to achieve this feat together with Stephaan DeWolf and their colleagues. They chose the commonest — and therefore cheapest — crystalline cell (called ‘p-doped silicon’), took care of its preparation and improved the process of application of amorphous silicon. They obtained a 21.4% conversion efficiency, which had never been achieved before with such type of substrates: nowadays, the best quality monocrystalline cells only attain an energy conversion efficiency of 18-19% at best. In addition, the measured open-circuit voltage was 726 mV, which constitutes a first-time accomplishment as well. Last but not least, they broke the 22% efficiency barrier on a less common substrate.”
This process, which has been validated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) in Germany, will be published by the IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics.
According to the researchers, commercializing these innovations and bringing them to the market will still be a few years off. However, the research was financed in part by Roth & Rau Switzerland, whose parent company, Meyer Burger, is already beginning the commercialization of the machines that will be used to assemble this type of heterojunction sensors.
“Within three to five years, we expect to reach a production cost of $100 per square meter of sensors, estimates Stefaan DeWolf. In Switzerland, with the conversion efficiency achieved, such a surface will be able to produce between 200 and 300 kWh of electricity per year. ”
Thanks to Jean at Thousand Suns for this story

Solarpod Buddy - the best performing solar charger in the world!


Introducing the new Solarpod Buddy, simply the best looking and high performance solar charger available in the UK today. With super sexy stylish design, The Solarpod Buddy is so handy and reliable that you’ll never have to worry about running out of juice again.Solarpod buddy conveniently charges any device. That includes your smart phone or blackberry; IPods; IPod touch; MP3 players; GPS devices; dongles, remotes; just about any personal electrical gadget that you might use as long as it has a USB port.For its size, the Solarpod Buddy has incredible high performance ensuring, at the very least, a full charge of your average smart phone every time. To maximise performance give the Solarpod a boost from the grid and then it just keeps charging the whole time, sat on your desk, windows or even a car dashboard. Because the Solarpod Buddy is always charged, it means that your phone will never run out, it gives you ultimate reliability. Its stylish and tactile design means it is tiny, good-looking and will easily into your handbag, manbag or even your pocket.Jean Viry-Babel, Founder of the Solarpod Buddy said; “I was so frustrated that my phone kept running out of juice that I was inspired to create the Solarpod Buddy and make convenient, great value reliability available to everyone. This product is so convenient and reliable; you will always end up needing it.”The Solarpod Buddy is available from Power on Demand with an RRP £34.99.For more information you can also visit Thousand SunsThanks to solar generator guide for the article[...]

Top Ten Solar Gadgets for Christmas 2012


Here is my Top 10 Solar Gadgets for Christmas 2012:1 SolarpodWant to look cool anywhere you need to plug or keep your internet during power cuts (or your fridge for that matter). Here is the coolest portable solar generator from Thousand Suns. and you can buy it here 2 The AutomowerIf anything would look cool in your garden, its is the Husqvarna solar automower...3 The Soulra XLand what about the best looking ipod player around! find it here4 The Sun Tablethe garden furniture must have for 2012...5 The solar powered water bottle capUtterly useless therefore a must have! here6 The solarpod buddyThe smaller cousin of the solarpod (see no1). The best solar phone charger around. Check it here. Buy it here7 The solar keyboardI definitely want one of these.8 The solar treeJust because it does look really cool! here9 The solar shaverBecause I had the terrifying experience to try one! here10 The solar waving flowerBecause it is by for the most useless solar gadget out there! here[...]

top ten solar panel manufacturer


Ever wonder who produces the most is my take on the top ten solar panel manufacturer: First SolarSuntechSharpQ-CellsYingliJA SolarKyoceraTrina SolarSunPowerGintechThis is not a scientific approach to that list but it should give you a good overview!Here is a more scientific approach:2011 RankingSolar Module Company2010 rankingMarketshare1Suntech18.1%2First Solar27.9%3Sungen Solar46.4%4Trina56.1%5Canadian Solar65.3%6Sharp37Sunpower88Hanwha Solarone79Jinko>1010REC10SourcePVinsights[...]

using a portable generator while camping


Found on Thousand Suns:

Here is a clever little gadget to have access to power while camping. Solarpod is a portable solar generator that delivers 400W of power and can be used anywhere. it is powered by a 60w foldable panel.
It is the perfect gadget for Christmas... and you can buy it here

you can find the original article here

Personal Electricity System Uses Solar Energy and Mobile Phone Technology


What if you could tap into a personal electricity system that uses solar energy and mobile phone technology, rather than grid-based power? Recently, a UK company called Eight19 announced a solution called IndiGo, which is a pay-as-you-go, personal electricity system for the developing world. Combining solar power and mobile phone technology subscribers can light their homes and charge mobile phones using scratchcards.

Using solar energy, Eight19 believes it can increase access to electricity for over 1 billion people who are not connected to the grid. The project will not only help improve the lives of Third World residents by bringing light and refrigeration to the villages, but it also helps minimize the negative impacts of living with kerosene – both via the fumes and expense.

Steve Andrews, CEO of Solar Aid, commented:

“We are excited to be working with Eight19 on this revolutionary technology. Solar energy offers huge economic, health and social benefits to the world’s poorest people; for lighting and mobile phone charging. Eight19’s technology opens up these benefits to many more people. This is a major breakthrough”, said Steve Andrews, CEO of Solar Aid, a charity supporting product trials in Kenya.

Its easy to switch to solar power with the IndiGo system. Components include a low-cost solar panel, a battery unit with inbuilt mobile phone charger and a high efficiency light emitting diode (LED) lamp. Users can put credit on their IndiGo device using a scratchcard, validated over SMS using a standard mobile phone.

Simon Bransfeild-Garth, the CEO of Eight19 comments:

“We are very encouraged by this new way of delivering energy to off-grid applications in emerging markets. Indigo enables a new generation of solar power products that are affordable, providing customers with access, often for the first time, to clean low cost energy that eliminates the health risks and carbon emissions of kerosene.”

Source :

Rooftop solar prices fall 'precipitously'


The upside to the brutal global competition in the solar industry is a steady and sizable price drop for homeowners and utilities.The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory yesterday released the latest figures in a multiyear study of price trends for solar photovoltaic equipment and installation. Overall, the study, commissioned by the Department of Energy and the Clean Energy States Alliances, paints a picture of a maturing industry and falling product prices.From 2009 to 2010, the price of a residential solar electric system fell 17 percent to $6.20 per watt, or a $1.30 decline. Measured from 1998, the installed costs fell 43 percent. The data is garnered from more than 100,000 installations of commercial and grid-tied residential solar panels, which are usually under 10 kilowatts in capacity. The costs don't include a 30 percent federal tax rebate and state incentives."Wholesale PV module (panel) prices have fallen precipitously since about 2008, and those upstream cost reductions have made their way through to consumers," Galen Barbose of Berkeley Labs' Environmental Energy Technologies Division and report co-author said in a statement. Related stories: • Econ 101: Solar panels increase home values • Falling solar costs: Good for buyers, bad for makers • Solar industry shakeout leads to more large projectsThe trend will continue this year as the average cost of systems has already fallen 70 cents per watt, or 11 percent in the first half of 2011, the study found. Larger systems, including commercial arrays and utility-scale plants, saw the lowest price declines. The average installed costs for systems over 500 kilowatts fell 26 percent from 2009 to 2010.(Credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)The data should not be a surprise to solar industry followers who have seen three U.S. solar companies declare bankruptcy in the past few weeks and ongoing industry consolidation. In another indication of tough times, solar industry analyst Jesse Pichel of Jefferies this morning cut his ratings for three Chinese solar manufacturers, citing questions over demand in Europe and "adrift" prices.Another notable finding from Berkeley's data is that costs separate from the panels, or modules, are moving downward as well. About half of the cost of a solar installation is tied to other equipment, such as inverters, and the installation."The drop in non-module costs is especially important as those are the costs that can be most readily influenced by solar policies aimed at accelerating deployment and removing market barriers, as opposed to research and development programs that are also aimed at reducing module costs," report co-author Ryan Wiser said in a statement.Systems prices can vary by state significantly and new homes have significantly lower installed costs compared to retrofits, the study found.Analysts say that lower prices will help entice homeowners and businesses to buy panels, but the bigger impact may well be on solar leasing financing programs. Because solar installers have lower equipment costs, they can offer financing services, which avoid upfront costs, in more regions.Waiting for prices to fall further, however, does not seem to be the best strategy. The Berkeley study notes that price declines were offset by changes to state incentives for renewable energy. Pre-incentive prices dropped $1 per watt for residential customers and $1.50 for commercial customers last year, but incentive changes resulted in net installed cost decreases of 40 cents per watt and 80 cents per watt.[...]

Jeremy Leggett


Green entrepreneur Jeremy Leggett advocates following China and Germany's move towards investment in solar power now that start-up costs are falling drastically. Wall Street has developed an aversion to solar-company stocks. Yet in the USA, solar jobs now outnumber steel jobs and in Germany solar jobs outnumber nuclear jobs. Most big energy companies and half of Whitehall profess that solar can never be a serious player in national energy plans. Yet the UN and others have recently concluded that solar could play a major role in a world mostly run on renewable energy. Who to believe? “Follow the money” is a useful guide. The global average cost of manufacturing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels has been falling 18% for every doubling of capacity in factories for many years now. As a consequence the average price for a solar PV power plant in the US was $7 per watt in 2007 and $3 per watt this year. In the 6 years it would take to build a new coal plant in America starting today, solar PV will be the cheaper option. This inexorable fall of 18% in cost means that solar electricity ever nears costing the same as conventional electricity: "grid parity", as energy pundits call it. Grid parity is coming in every country. The timing varies with domestic electricity pricing, but there can be little doubt that solar electricity is going to be cheaper than conventional energy almost everywhere within the decade. Those who say “solar is more expensive than gas and coal” take a misleading snapshot in time: they make a one dimensional statement about a two dimensional phenomenon. A nuclear plant takes more than ten years to install, a solar PV plant of similar output one year. As for rooftop solar, zero-emission solar homes can be built in a matter of months, as SSE and Solarcentury have shown in practice in the UK. A revolution is unfolding. At least some investors appreciate this. A record $211 billion flowed into clean energy in 2010, driven in the main by Chinese wind power and European solar roofs. British industry must not miss out on this revolution. Neither must our increasingly hard-pressed citizenry, few of whom will want to be paying ever rising Big 6 electricity prices based on coal, gas and nuclear, beyond the UK’s solar grid-parity crossing point. It is no longer credible to say that solar can’t play a major role in a sustainable energy mix. Deutsche Bahn intends to run the entire German railway system on wind, solar and hydropower. The German economics ministry has collaborated with German companies to run a scaled model of the national economy on a real mix of renewables, including solar, and concluded that a healthy modern economy could be run on renewables, including baseload electricity. In a report due out later this year, the International Energy Agency will admit that solar can provide 60% of global electricity by 2060. It is not good enough to say, as some do, that if a global mass market is inevitable, the UK should sit back and partake come the day, not before. This is a strategic miscalculation. We do not want to be importing every aspect of our energy infrastructure ad infinitum. National security considerations such as peak oil increasingly demand that we have domestic industries that are as stand-alone as humanly possible. In this respect there should be many opportunities for the government. The prime minister has emphasised the Big Society idea as a flagship programme of his tenure, and he envisions many of the jobs that must countervail the austerity measures will come from British participation in the green industrial revolution that he says is unfoldling around the world. Solar is an important part of that. Ask the Chinese. In 2000 they had little solar. Now every second solar cell is made in China. The government would not have to do much to fashion a Big Society/green industrial re[...]

Solar plants could be able to run at night with a new system developed by BrightSource


(image) (image) By Kevin Bullis

BrightSource Energy has become the latest solar thermal power company to develop a system for generating power when the sun isn't shining. The company says the technology can lower the cost of solar power and make it more reliable, helping it compete with conventional sources of electricity.

The company, based in Oakland, California, is building one of the world's largest solar thermal power plants. The 392-megawatt solar plant in Ivanpah, California, however, will not include the storage technology. Instead, BrightSource is working with utilities to determine which future projects could best benefit from storage.

Solar thermal systems use mirrors to focus sunlight, generating temperatures high enough to produce steam to drive a turbine. One of the advantages of the solar thermal approach, versus conventional photovoltaics that convert sunlight directly into electricity, is that heat can be stored cheaply and used when needed to generate electricity. In all solar thermal plants, some heat is stored in the fluids circulating through the system. This evens out any short fluctuations in sunlight and lets the plant generate electricity for some time after the sun goes down. But adding storage systems would let the plant ride out longer periods of cloud cover and generate power well into, or even throughout, the night. Such long-term storage could be needed if solar is to provide a large share of the total power supply.

BrightSource is using a variation on an approach to storage that's a decade old: heating up a molten salt—typically, a combination of sodium and potassium nitride—and then storing it in a tank. To generate electricity, the molten salt is pumped through a heat exchanger to generate steam. BrightSource CEO John Woolard says one big factor in making this technology economically attractive is the use of power towers—in which mirrors focus sunlight on a central tower—that generate higher temperatures than other solar thermal designs. That higher temperature makes it possible to store more energy using a smaller amount of molten salt. "It's a much more efficient system and much more cost effective, overall," he says. Source :

Beyond Capacity: Why Italy Changed Its PV Strategy


By Yoav Banin, Solergy20 juillet 2011 Reducing costs is essential to achieving broad acceptance of solar energy and lessening dependence on fossil fuels. However, the latest episode in Italy's PV incentives drama has proven that grid parity alone is not enough to drive widespread adoption. In addition to cost, both urban and rural Italians are carefully considering how to integrate PV into their environments in a way that is compatible with their daily lives and broader energy sourcing goals. In the short-term, they are prepared to pay higher incentives and accelerate permitting for certain PV configurations that reflect these goals, such as building integrated (BIPV), rooftop, and CPV. The previous version of Conto Energia succeeded in driving record PV adoption but at an unforeseen price. The runaway success of Italy’s 3rd Conto Energia resulted in a boom of PV installations that far exceeded anyone’s expectations. Today, Italy has a total installed capacity more than 7.2 GW, enough to be considered a world leader alongside Germany. The nation also boasts some of the largest PV plants in the world. However, the expected cost of the program raised alarms in the government and led to the suspension of the 3rd Conto Energia law only five months after it was enacted, far short of its intended three-year duration. Further concerns over land use, aesthetics, a loss of critical agricultural lands, and insufficient local content and job creation have led to a ‘pushback’ from regional governments, industry groups and consumers. Even before the government got involved, individual regions were already fighting PV speculation by placing restrictions on the size and type of plants installed. For example, the Puglia region, the leader in total and per-capita PV installed in Italy, blocked many permits and authorization requests to limit the consumption of precious land, especially due to its rich tradition in olive orchards. Sicily resisted giving up its land to foreign speculators to install PV plants without a clear, long-term return on this investment. Instead, the regional government focused on programs whereby local jobs and factories are created as part of an overall package to promote both solar energy and local economic development. A successful example of this policy is the recent opening of the 3Sun factory in Catania, Italy’s largest PV panel factory with over €200 million investment and immediate creation of 280 jobs. Changing priorities To remedy the unintended problems with the previous statewide policy, the government approved the 4th Conto Energia law in May. While generally reducing incentives across the board, the revised law specifically discourages deployment of PV plants based on flat panels. Incentives for these plants are being reduced every month with cuts as high as 20 to 30 percent by the end of year, depending on plant size. Additional size restrictions for large plants aim to reduce land consumption. ‘Large’ plants are defined as any ground-mounted plant greater than 200 kW and any rooftop installation greater than 1 MW. These large plants have an installation cap of 2,690 MW and an incentive budget of €580 million ($824 million) between now and the end of 2012. Further, there is a complex system of access restrictions to ensure that the expense budget for large plants is respected. There are also restrictions on use of agricultural lands for PV. In order to be eligible to receive incentives, an installation must not exceed 1 MW, occupy more than 10 percent of the crop-producing land, and must be at least 2 km from another plant. This design not only avoids destruction of productive land but also prevents the visual destruction of Italy’s beautiful countryside. It is no secret that huge PV plants or wind towers can be quite an eyeso[...]

Africa - Renewable Energy Rising Rapidly


"Global investment in renewable energy jumped 32% in 2010, to a record $211 billion. It was boosted in particular by wind farm development in China and small-scale solar PV installation on rooftops in Europe. ... Significant investment is also starting to be seen in Africa, which posted the highest percentage increase of all developing regions, if the emerging economies of Brazil, China and India are excluded. ... Total investment on the continent rose from $750 million [in 2009] to $3.6 billion [in 2010]." -- Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2011

As noted in another AfricaFocus Bulletin released today and available on the web at, progress at global climate talks is painfully slow and inconsistent, with serious setbacks likely unless there is new momentum by the end of the year. But, as indicated by this new report on renewable energy, there is significant progress on some fronts away from the global negotiations. The new UNEP report on global trends in renewable energy investment, excerpted below, comments:

"There was a sense, in both the second half of 2010 and early 2011, that progress in renewable energy was taking place at a pace that public opinion and policymakers in many countries were simply failing to spot. This progress was both in investment levels and, even more, in costcompetitiveness with conventional power sources."

Another sign of increased momentum on the renewable energy front was the launch of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), with headquarters in Abu Dhabi. An initial consultation earlier this month resulted in the "Abu Dhabi Communiqué on Renewable Energy for Accelerating Africa's Development," also included in this AfricaFocus Bulletin. While the language of the declaration echoes all too familiar conference boilerplate commitments, it indicates a growing consensus that renewable energy must take higher priority in Africa's development plans. As prices drop, and renewable energy becomes more competitive, private investors as well as policy makers are taking the sector more seriously.

Source :

Japan's Richest Man Challenges Nuclear Future with Nationwide Solar Plans


Solar energy is going to be a driving force in rebuilding of Japan's energy sector after the devastating earthquake that caused much destruction earlier this year. Billionaire Masayoshi Son has a track record in taking on monopolies after building a business that opened up the nation’s telecommunications industry. Now he aims to shake up Japan’s power utilities after the worst nuclear crisis in 25 years. Son, the 53-year-old chief executive officer of Softbank Corp. (9984), plans to build solar farms to generate electricity with support from at least 33 of Japan’s 47 prefectures. In return, he’s asking for access to transmission networks owned by the 10 regional utilities and an agreement they buy his electricity. Radiation has spread across at least 600 square kilometers (230 square miles) in northeastern Japan after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami caused reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in May he will rethink a plan to increase atomic power to 50 percent of the nation’s total from 30 percent. Renewable energy accounts for 10 percent, according to Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, and Son wants that ratio to be tripled by 2020. “The question is how this nation is going to survive after cutting nuclear power,” Son said at a government panel meeting June 12. “A framework should be designed in a way to make the power business open for anyone who has the will to start it.” Sunny Farms Solar plants using 20 percent of unused agricultural land in Japan can have the generation capacity of about 50 gigawatts, almost matching that of Tokyo Electric, Son said. “We can probably invite more companies to invest in our solar projects once a business model is set up,” said Yukiko Kada, governor of Shiga prefecture, who is one of Son’s partners. The Japanese government may break up utilities’ regional monopolies and separate their power-generation businesses from distribution operations, Kyodo News reported May 31, without saying where it obtained the information. A panel will begin discussing the issue from June as the government seeks to reform the power industry by 2020, Kyodo said. Any move to separate power distribution from utilities “should have a national discussion after careful analysis on the merits and demerits as well as the impact on the stability of power supply and electricity fees,” Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of Keidanren, Japan’s biggest business lobby, said on June 6. “It’s an extremely important issue that can impact the international competitiveness of Japanese industries,” he said Article Source: posted on The Asia-Pacific Journal[...]

A scientific advance promises a revolution in the ease and cost of using solar cells


A scientific advance in renewable energy which promises a revolution in the ease and cost of using solar cells, has been announced on July 4, 2011. A new study shows that even when using very simple and inexpensive manufacturing methods -- where flexible layers of material are deposited over large areas like cling-film -- efficient solar cell structures can be madeThe study, published in the journalAdvanced Energy Materials, paves the way for new solar cell manufacturing techniques and the promise of developments in renewable solar energy. Scientists from the Universities of Sheffield and Cambridge used the ISIS Neutron Source and Diamond Light Source at STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire to carry out the research.Plastic (polymer) solar cells are much cheaper to produce than conventional silicon solar cells and have the potential to be produced in large quantities. The study showed that when complex mixtures of molecules in solution are spread onto a surface, like varnishing a table-top, the different molecules separate to the top and bottom of the layer in a way that maximises the efficiency of the resulting solar cell.Dr Andrew Parnell of the University of Sheffield said, "Our results give important insights into how ultra-cheap solar energy panels for domestic and industrial use can be manufactured on a large scale. Rather than using complex and expensive fabrication methods to create a specific semiconductor nanostructure, high volume printing could be used to produce nano-scale (60 nano-meters) films of solar cells that are over a thousand times thinner than the width of a human hair. These films could then be used to make cost-effective, light and easily transportable plastic solar cell devices such as solar panels."Dr. Robert Dalgliesh, one of the ISIS scientists involved in the work, said, "This work clearly illustrates the importance of the combined use of neutron and X-ray scattering sources such as ISIS and Diamond in solving modern challenges for society. Using neutron beams at ISIS and Diamond's bright X-rays, we were able to probe the internal structure and properties of the solar cell materials non-destructively. By studying the layers in the materials which convert sunlight into electricity, we are learning how different processing steps change the overall efficiency and affect the overall polymer solar cell performance. ""Over the next fifty years society is going to need to supply the growing energy demands of the world's population without using fossil fuels, and the only renewable energy source that can do this is the Sun," said Professor Richard Jones of the University of Sheffield. " In a couple of hours enough energy from sunlight falls on the Earth to satisfy the energy needs of the Earth for a whole year, but we need to be able to harness this on a much bigger scale than we can do now. Cheap and efficient polymer solar cells that can cover huge areas could help move us into a new age of renewable energy."Source : ScienceDaily (July 4, 2011)[...]

Find out how much green energy you could generate and install your solar panels in the right place


Before spending a lot of money installing a PV solar (1) or wind turbine (2) generating system, it is vital to survey the planned site to ensure that the prevailing weather conditions are suitable.The Power Predictor not only logs wind speed and direction data, but also counts the number of hours of sunshine. The Power Predictor (6) from Better Generation Ltd (7) includes a solar radiation sensor, wind direction vane, and wind speed measuring anemometer. This is connected via a rugged 5 metre cable to a self-contained waterproof recorder unit with LCD (display) which when powered by a 9 Volt battery will provide up to one year of continuous monitoring. It retails (price last checked on 11th March 2010) at £152.75 (including a twelve month software license for the analysis software on the Power Predictor website).Power Predictor was invented by Toby Hammond, a managing director of Better Generation, and is the result of 2 years of research and development. He said,"For most people, micro power generation is a step into the unknown. No one should spend thousands of pounds on renewable energy equipment without knowing the payback time based on the amount of energy they could generate at their premises. Our intention has been take the guesswork out of micro generation by creating a device that is not based on modelled data, which is often inaccurate, but on site specific data that shows anyone at home or at work, how much they could save by generating solar or wind energy."Collected data are written to a removable 512MB memory card which can be read by a PC or Mac via USB (using included USB adapter), and uploaded to the Power Predictor website once you have collected more than 30 days of data. With a constantly updated database of the many solar panels and wind turbines on the market, different generation options can be compared to see which will offer the biggest financial and carbon (8) savings, and the fastest payback periods at the tested site.The Power Predictor is powered with a 9V (PP3) battery (included) and should last 6 months in normal conditions.Web Link References(1) :[...]

Top 10 Myths Surrounding Solar Energy: Interview with Edwin Koot


'Solar energy in the UK? You are joking right!' Ever heard that phrase? Edwin Koot, CEO of Solarplaza addresses the 10 major myths surrounding solar energy.1. Generating solar energy is only possible in countries with an abundance of sunshine   The fact is, the sun's energy is the most evenly-spread source of energy in the world. In any part of the world where there is light, solar panels will work. The world’s largest market for solar energy is Germany, a country not particularly blessed with long sun-filled days, but a country with a smart government nonetheless. In the summer, almost 10% of the household electricity in the south of Germany is generated by solar panels.  Of course, when you’re developing systems in the Sahara region, your return on investment (ROI) will be higher - but many other factors come into play, such as the presence of a grid, the local consumer price for electricity, your energy usage pattern, the political stability in your country, your need for independence from external sources of energy, and much more. As an example, in Northern Alaska it is smarter to invest in solar energy than to pull a cable from a far-away power plant or grid connection point.  2. Solar panels are only attractive in niche markets   Solar energy is an attractive product in any place in which people need electricity - which nowadays is anywhere in the civilised world, globally. That is a much larger market than just large-scale solar plants in desert areas, which are very competitive markets because they require the creation of new grids, are competing with wholesale electricity prices and are crowded with many other power-generating enterprises.  When you focus on solar panels that can be mounted on a rooftop, for household or entrepreneurial use, you can compete against the local consumer and corporate rates for electricity. You can compare this with the market for compact fluorescent lamps, where the consumer saves money on a longer term by investing a small sum of money. The ROI is made at the end-consumer level: the cost of the electricity bill. The investments are very simple, and no new grids or other types of costly infrastructure are needed.3. Solar energy needs a lot of public financial support and could never become competitive   “People will never buy laptops.” “Flat-screen televisions are too expensive for the general consumer market.” “Mobile communication is too expensive in comparison with landlines.” These are some of the opinions that we have heard in the past - and how untrue they are! Laptops, flat-screen televisions and mobile phones are now everywhere, because people wanted them and were willing to pay for them - with the result that in the end prices fell due to mass production methods that could be applied for these innovative products. The same is now happening with solar energy systems.In the past three years, the prices of solar panels have dropped by half, as a result of the introduction of large-scale production methods. Market research shows that innovative consumers want solar energy now. In five years’ time the masses will also switch over, as throughout Europe solar energy will have become cheaper than the polluting electricity from the grid.Public funding was created in the past to accelerate this process of acceptance by the general consumer. In the largest markets, subsidies are now in the process of being terminated. By next year, Italy and Germany will see their non-subsidised solar energy already proving cheaper than electricity from the grid. The other European countries will soon follow this trend.And further countries will follow world[...]

The big boys enter the solar race!


Traditionally a market reserved for niche players, the solar sector is now drawing increasing interest from energy behemoths like General Electric and Total as well as unexpected new investors like Google. US giant General Electric entered the solar power race in April when it announced the acquisition of PrimeStar Solar, Inc. — a company in which GE has held a majority equity stake since 2008. GE entered the wind energy business about a decade ago and has since grown its turbine manufacturing arm to generate about $6 billion in annual sales. It now hopes to repeat this success with solar, with plans to open America's largest solar photovoltaic factory in 2013. Global demand for solar PV is likely to increase by 75 gigawatts over the next five years, GE said, justifying a decision to invest $600 million in solar technology and commercialisation.Scale – and cost – is everything The move marks the US giant's entry into the race to build low-cost photovoltaic panels with the aim of bringing solar power to the mainstream. The new US factory will produce thin-film photovoltaic panels relying on Cadmium Telluride (CdTe), a market now dominated by First Solar, another American company, which pioneered the technology. Although less efficient than conventional solar panels, CdTe allows for quicker assembly and mass production of solar panels at lower cost, a method designed for energy production at utility-scale rather than for small rooftop installations. And for GE as well as First Solar, scale – and cost reduction – is everything. "This will be the initial market to focus on: utility-operated and utility-scale solar farms," said Mark Vachon, vice-president of GE Energy's Ecoimagination programme. "I still think the market is largely immature and I think our scale will bring us to a position we will be proud of," he told EurActiv. Vachon declined to say how big the scaling up was going to be, simply saying "it is pretty big". "You can imagine we want a return on that investment." The company's chief executive, Jeff Immelt, told investors in December that he believed it could be a $2 billion to $3 billion business for GE by 2015.Total bid could signal further acquisitions In a related move, French energy major Total SA has offered in April to buy up a majority stake in US company SunPower Corp. for a price of $1.37 billion. Total's move is one of the biggest ever by an oil and gas giant into the market for renewable energy and could signal the start of large-scale consolidation in the solar sector, something for which investors have been waiting for years. Big utilities have so far shunned the sector – which predominantly features small roof-installed systems – in favour of large-scale wind farms that fit better into their business models. The deal "is something we have been waiting for and with the industry gradually moving more from Germany, Italy and the rest of Europe to the US and China, the utilities and power groups will get a bigger role," said Jon Sigurdsen, renewable fund manager at DnB Nor Group unit Carlson. "We are now becoming a lot more positive [on the sector] and we have recently bought a lot of solar shares actually since the start of the year," Sigurdsen told Reuters. Arno Behrens, head of energy at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), a Brussels-based think tank, believes the sector is braced for further consolidation. "With constant pressure on the solar industry to become more competitive, further consolidation of the sector is unavoidable, also in view of increasing competition from China," Behrens told EurAct[...]

Solarpod, the first portable solar generator, goes live in th UK!


Thousand Suns Ltd has recently announced its successful start of the production of the solarpod by thousandsuns™.Solarpod is the first portable solar generator of its kind.‘After 2 years of R&D, a stint at Dragon's Den and a lawsuit by Apple, we are finally starting the distribution of Solarpod in the UK!’ says Jean Viry-Babel, Managing Director of Thousand Suns. The students of Swafhamm Bulbeck primary school in Cambridge, have received the first ever mass produced Solarpod. ‘As the kids have worked hard for their solar energy project, from a sponsored walk to selling home-grown fruits and veggies and an old clothes tailoring stand, we decided to donate solar panels and personally bring Solarpod to their school. Solarpod will power their computers and laptops!’Solarpod is designed to be able to provide energy self-sufficiency in areas where there is either an unreliable or a non-existent grid network. For instance, at your summer beach house in Cornwall, out fishing, camping, in your shed/allotment or in regular power cut stricken Japan. It is the first lightweight, portable solar generator and It contains the latest in Lithium Iron Phosphate battery and 400W inverter technology. By connecting solar panels directly to Solarpod with cables, you can produce your own power in 5 minutes and it powers a lot of appliances found in the home, office, shed or workplace; such as TVs, stereos, games consoles, under the counter refrigerators, laptops, phones, power tools etc. It works out-of-the-box and is completely plug and play with no installation required.With 800 units pre-ordered Solarpod is now available in India, Finland, Japan, Malta, Germany and Spain. In the UK, Solarpod is now for sale on Amazon or at Thousand Suns online store for £499! Follow Thousand Suns and Solarpod’s developments on Twitter at [...]

Solar Trade Association:Government neglects solar’s retail potential


The Solar Trade Association has highlighted an apparent shortcoming in the Committee on Climate Change’s renewable energy report that could underestimate the potential of the UK solar industry.The trade body claims the report neglects the solar industry’s potential as a retail industry, gauging its potential for future growth only by looking at wholesale prices.‘[The report] underestimated the potential for solar in the UK through its apparent lack of understanding of the retail energy marketplace,’ the Solar Trade Association said in a statement.‘The Committee for Climate Change has failed to recognise that solar power should be compared to retail rather than wholesale electricity prices.’The Committee for Climate Change is an independent body tasked with advising the UK government on setting carbon budgets. It reports to parliament on progress the country has made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.While its latest renewable energy report acknowledged the huge solar resources on offer in the UK, the Solar Trade Association claims it has given a limited outlook of the economic part the technology will play in the country’s gross energy industry through until 2030.Howard Johns, chairman of the Solar Trade Association, said, ‘[The Committee for Climate Change has] made the very basic mistake of comparing the costs of solar with the costs of large-scale wind and nuclear. Solar works directly on your roof and therefore cuts out the costs of networks, supplier profits and all sorts of additional costs.‘Solar competes directly with what the end-user pays for electricity – the retail, not whole, electricity market. That is a critical difference when evaluating the different technologies.’Johns said that the Department for Energy and Climate Change similarly overlooked the industry’s potential as a key part of the future competitive retail market in its Electricity Market Reform proposals.A recent report by European Photovoltaic Industry Association showed that even at the wholesale level, solar power will be competitive with new gas plants in some countries within less than five years. Germany anticipates deriving ten per cent of its electricity from solar power by 2020.Article source[...]

The future of PV solar: according to Jigar Shah


"By 2013 20% of global electricity sales will be most cost-effectively supplied by solar PV"A renowned visionary, Jigar Shah is committed to renewable energy and sustainable solutions that enable prosperity beyond the carbon economy. As CEO of the Carbon War Room, Jigar is dedicated to indentifying business-as-usual practices and replacing them with low-carbon solutions. Prior to the Carbon War Room, Jigar founded SunEdison in 2003. In this interview, Jigar Shah talks about how he thinks that the PV market will develop in the near future. The PV market seems to grow more each year than analysts can predict. Most predictions turned out to be too pessimistic. How do you see the PV market for 2011 and 2012? Solar prices are coming down quickly.  This is not just in modules but the innovation has really been in power electronics and balance of systems.  The lower costs are causing many countries to grow quickly.  People underestimate the number of entrepreneurs focusing on climate solutions such as solar.  Will the PV market continue to increase spectacularly in the coming years or will it decrease because of governments ending or reducing feed-in tariffs? In fact the reduction of feed-in tariffs is critical to reaching the next phase of growth.  Solar will reach grid parity for over 20% of all electricity sold globally by 2013 - that’s an enormous market.What are your expectations for the global PV market in 2011 (size in MW new installed power) and 2012? Will a consolidation phase hit the solar industry as production capacity expands quickly while on the other hand there are uncertainties about markets such as Germany, Italy, France, USA, Czech Republic, UK, etc.? I think we will exceed 20 GW in 2012.  The oversupply is only in manufacturing equipment – only about 20 GW or so will be able to sell panels for less than US$1.40 per Wp.  Concentration is likely, but consolidation probably not.  It is simply not worth buying other competitors when you can grow market share less expensively.  The uncertainties in the markets are good because you will see a move towards grid parity markets in a big way in 2012.What PV projects that you support or know of do you see as the most promising in the coming years? I think there are large new markets coming in India, South Africa, Turkey, Thailand, Australia, and the Philippines.What do you see as the biggest threat to solar energy? And the biggest opportunity? As a distributed generation technology, PV is not affected by cheaper natural gas.  My sense is that you will see incredible growth in the off-grid market – replacing diesel fuel usage around the world.Critics are waiting for the time solar electricity will be cheaper (for residential customers) than electricity from the grid. When and where do you see that happening first? And does reaching grid parity make incentives and feed-in tariffs obsolete? This is already the case in California, Italy, and other markets with high electricity costs and insolation.  Over the next two years all diesel electricity markets will experience aggressive PV conversion and by 2013 20% of global electricity sales will be most cost-effectively supplied by distributed solar PV. What is your vision on the development of the US PV market? Will the USA surpass Germany in the next 3 years - and if so, why? The US solar market has been a sleeping giant.  The financial products and sales efforts are more advanced than in any other market worldwide.  As solar continues to come down in price, solar will[...]

Solar Panels Are 'Contagious' : according to Stanford Study


Are you more likely to install solar panels if your neighbor has them? A photovoltaic study (PDF) out of Stanford says that you are!More specifically, it finds that for every 1 percent increase in the number of installations in a particular zip code, the time until the next adoption of solar decreases by 1 percent. Thus solar is contagious!So just how quickly can solar power spread as this snowball effect gets rolling? John Farrell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's New Rules Project explains:'If you start with a neighborhood with 25 solar installations, where it was 100 days between the 24th and 25th installation, this peer pressure effect will reduce the time between installations to just 10 days by the 250th photovoltaic project'.Here's what the effect looks like:Of course, this process can take a pretty long time to actually unfold. In the example above, in a hypothetical zip code starting with one solar installation, it takes 15 years for the gap between installations to come down to 10 days.What neither Browning or Farrell got into was what, exactly, caused solar power's contagiousness. Is it peer pressure? Infrastructure and training? Marketing density?It turns out it's a little bit of everything. One predictable factor is social caché. Call it Keeping up with the Joneses. Homeowners see others putting up solar panels, and they want to projecting the same "green image." Another is information transfer. It gets easier to find out about solar panels if there are people in your zip code who have them. Neighbors talk to neighbors, explaining the benefits of rooftop solar, and demystifying the installation process. Likewise, once local contractors are familiar and comfortable with the systems, they can serve more customers, and talk to other contractors. Finally, companies like SolarCity are taking a hyperlocal approach to marketing and sales. It benefits the company to have a lot of projects in one area, so they'll target a city or town, blast through, and move on.All of this evidence points to the fact that the best possible way you can get more people to adopt solar energy is to put panels on your own home first!Article Source[...]

Google Goes Solar; Invests €3.5 million In Solar Energy Plant In Germany


Google has invested €3.5 million in a German photovoltaic park, marking the internet giant’s first venture into the renewable energy market outside the United States. The park, near the city of Brandenburg an der Havel, produces about 18 million kilowatt hours per year and is one of the largest photovoltaic facilities in Germany. Joining Google in the investment is the German financial group Capital Stage, the largest independent solar energy investor in the country, according to the company’s own figures. Google, with its massive server facilities, is also a major consumer of energy. But the facility in Brandenburg is not intended to serve as a Google data centre. Its goal is to provide green energy to about 5,000 households in Brandenburg and surrounding regions. The park lies on the 47 hectare plot of the Brandenburg-Briest airport, which was used for military purposes until the early 1990s. Google has so far invested in two wind energy projects in the United States. The choice of the Brandenburg plant as its first energy venture outside the US is no coincidence, said Benjamin Kott, Google’s Clean Energy Advocacy Manager. For many years, he said, Germany has been at the cutting edge of renewable energy development. “The land is in good condition, the local residents are in favour of clean energy and the German manufacturers deliver outstanding technology,” Kott said. More than 70 percent of the solar plants installed in Brandenburg are German-made. Google recently began two other projects in Germany, including an initiative to get small businesses online called "Online Motor Deutschland," and the announcement of plans to open an internet institute in Berlin.Article source [...]

US Secretary Chu Announces Over $110M In SunShot Projects To Advance Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing In The U.S.


 Solar Manufacturing Partnerships will boost American competitiveness in the global solar energy industry and lower the cost of clean, renewable energy. As part of the SunShot Initiative, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently announced the selection of up to $112.5M over five years for funding to support the development of advanced solar photovoltaic (PV)-related manufacturing processes throughout the United States.The Department's SunShot Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships will help the solar power industry overcome technical barriers and reduce costs for PV installations, help the U.S. regain the lead in the global market for solar technologies, and provide support for clean energy jobs for years to come. This program is modeled in part on SEMATECH (Semiconductor Manufacturing TECHnology). Faced with falling U.S. market share for the domestic semiconductor industry from 57% in 1982 to 38% in 1988, SEMATECH began working with domestic equipment suppliers to improve their capabilities. As a result of SEMATECH's work to solve common manufacturing problems by leveraging resources and sharing risks, within ten years the domestic semiconductor industry had grown by 16%. Through this award, SEMATECH will now apply similar ingenuity to helping the U.S. recapture the lead in solar manufacturing. "Expanding the U.S. solar energy industry is an important part of the Administration's goals to diversify our electricity supply and rebuild America's manufacturing base to create jobs now and in the future," said Secretary Chu. "The SunShot Initiative will not only keep the United States at the forefront in solar energy research and development, but will help us win the worldwide race to build a solar manufacturing industry that produces solar systems that are cost competitive with fossil fuels ." Today's investments are part of DOE's SunShot Initiative, which aims to reduce the total costs of photovoltaic solar energy systems by about 75 percent so that they are cost competitive at large scale with other forms of energy without subsidies by the end of the decade. Achieving this goal – equivalent to approximately $1 a watt or roughly 6 cents per kilowatt-hour for utility systems – would allow solar energy systems to be broadly deployed across the country. By engaging multiple companies across the PV supply chain, the SunShot Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships program intends to have broad impact on the U.S. solar industry. Selected projects will create organizations designed to bring PV companies together in a coordinated environment to address common technology needs. The facilities established through these projects will provide services, tools, and facilities to PV companies and suppliers to assist them in developing and demonstrating new technologies and in making the transition to commercial production. The program will also link universities and national labs with PV cell, materials, and equipment suppliers to help speed the rate of innovation through coordinated and focused PV manufacturing development. The selected industry-focused organizations will strongly leverage industry, state, and local funds, and are expected to achieve financial self-sufficiency after five years. Article source [...]

Solar Panels Price Likely To Drop 20% In US Market In 2011


Solar panel prices in the United States are likely to drop by 20 cents per watt this year, according to the head of SolarCity, one of the nation's largest photovoltaic solar service companies. T hat drop would put the price of the panels that convert sunlight into electricity at about $1.40 per watt on average, or about 12.5 percent below prices quoted at the beginning of 2011.Chief Executive Officer Lyndon Rive said the decline will help privately held SolarCity, which buys the panels from manufacturers and installs them for homes and businesses, to reach its cost-cutting target of 5 to 8 percent this year. "It's hard to carve out 20 cents anywhere in this business," he told Reuters in an interview.Prices for solar panels have dropped by about 75 percent in the past decade, and make up less than half the total cost of installing a rooftop system.Most major solar manufacturers are increasing their output capacity of solar panels this year in a bid to grow their market share, even as key markets in Europe trim spending on the subsidies that are crucial to the fast-growing industry. That could lead to a glut of solar panels on the market, squeezing margins at companies such as Trina Solar, First Solar Inc and SolarWorld AG.However, market experts say those price declines are necessary to help the renewable power source compete with other sources of energy such as natural gas and coal, as well as reduce its dependence on government supports.SolarCity recently bought groSolar, a solar power project developer and distributor, expanding its reach into 10 states.The company's solar lease program for property owners has been a key part of its growth by enabling its customers to pay a monthly fee for solar panels rather than a large up-front installation price. That monthly fee is often offset by the customer's savings on electric utility bills. While many states have instituted support mechanisms that aid the solar industry, some -- such as Massachusetts, Oregon and New York -- have set caps on the number of projects or how much of a subsidy a single company can get, which inhibits growth, Rive said."It doesn't help anyone but the small guy, and he's going to go away when the subsidy does," Rive said.Driving down the costs of solar often means that companies must take advantage of economies of scale that are achieved by growing a company's size, he said."Unless you plan to (subsidize) this thing forever, you have to let them compete, and see who wins," he said.Article Source [...]

Switzerland Welcomes Cleantech Industry: EMPA


Swiss companies are investing heavily in cleantech and energy efficiency technologies, as the country beings to realise the potential of the industry, according to a new study.Environmentally friendly technologies are becoming increasingly important to Switzerland as an economic and research hub, the study by Empa found.Empa is the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technologies and is one of the project partners of the report.The study found that investment in cleantech and energy efficiency technologies was increasing across the board, making Switzerland now a leader in innovation.Recent findings by the Business Research Centre at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich looked at the economic mechanisms involved in generating and expansing energy efficient technologies. It concluded that Swiss companies channeled, on average, between five and seven per cent of their total investment into energy efficient technologies.As such, the Swiss economy is now using clean technologies on a wide-scale.‘As far as R&D is concerned, Switzerland is indeed top notch,’ Gian-Luca Bona, director of Empa. ‘But it takes much more for Swiss industry to be able to take advantage of the ‘big business’ that cleantech is likely to become.‘We need to transfer research results much more effectively into innovative – and marketable – technologies.’The study found that the proportion of investment in energy efficient technologies is particularly high in the paper and electrical engineering industries, with 12 per cent of spend being directed into this area.Meanwhile, power supply companies allocate some 48 per cent of their entire investment into such technologies.Empa said the principle driver behind this proportion of investment – regardless of the size of the power company – was high energy prices and environmental factors.One of the most notable deals in recent weeks to impact the region has been the business unit of Siemens, which has secured an order for its energy efficiency technology from Viessmann, which has operations in the country.Article source:[...]

Cincinnati Zoo Completes 6,400 Panel Solar Canopy


The Cincinnati Zoo has finished installing a four-acre solar canopy that it calls the largest publicly accessible urban solar project in the country.The zoo has installed 6,400 solar panels, totaling 1.56 MW, over its concrete parking lot.

The $11 million array will provide about 20 percent of the zoo’s energy needs, generating enough electricity to power 200 homes a year, and will provide shade for nearly 800 of the 1,000 parking spots available at the zoo’s main entrance.

The zoo said the panels will save it millions of dollars off of its electric bills.
“When we talk about the unknown future of energy policy and energy rates, we can know that 20 percent of our load is locked in and accounted for,” senior director of facilities, planning and sustainability Mark Fisher (pictured) said.

The zoo’s annual electric bill is about $700,000, reports.
Melink Corporation developed the installation and will own and operate the panels. The project was supported by PNC Bank, the local non-profit Uptown Consortium, National Development Council and the zoo’s electric utility, FirstEnergy, with funds from federal renewable energy and economic development tax credits.

Melink will sell the electricity for about eight cents a kWh, about what the zoo currently pays FirstEnergy, but the price will be locked in for seven years, said.
“Nowhere else has an array of this magnitude been placed in such an urban environment, allowing our visitors, and the general public at large, to be able to see first hand what solar photovoltaic energy is all about,” Fisher added. “The education potential of this advanced energy project is off the charts.”