The sunny side of solar power

If solar were fashion, we’d say it was having a moment. Over the past few years we’ve gone from near zero solar photovoltaic panels to 2.5GW of capacity. Of this 1.9GW is installed on rooftops and 0.6GW on giant solar farms, with planning secured for a further 0.9GW of utility scale projects.

Ordinarily, I’d greet these farms supplying renewable energy with a cheery, “Welcome to the grid!” Unfortunately, my real response on seeing one on a beloved rolling south Devon hillside was more profane. Developers tend to say they’re of “low visual impact”. Actually they’re positively industrial, guaranteed to bring out your inner Nimby.

Why now? Solar panels (produced in the Far East) cost a third of what they did three years ago. And there’s been a change with Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), too. Generators used to get two ROCs for every MWh of solar-produced electricity. They can be bought and traded among energy suppliers. But in March 2013 these were scaled down to 1.6 ROCs per MWh. Cue a scramble to generate more capacity.

Written by  Lucy Siegle. To read the full article, click here.

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Texas A&M U-Central Texas Launches Center for Solar Energy

Texas A&M University-Central Texas has launched the Center for Solar Energy to evaluate, develop, and test new photovoltaic solar technologies.

The new center, covering approximately 800 acres and costing nearly $600 million, will power the A&M Central Texas campus and “will host the largest assortment of photovoltaic technologies in the world and serve as a true test site for leading-edge technologies,” according to a school news release. To further encourage research and education into renewable energy, the university will also be adding new curriculum offerings with plans to expand them as the project grows.

Designed as an incubator, the center will provide support for training, engineering, demonstration, and manufacturing in an effort to bring new technologies to market within two years.

Written by Joshua Bolkan. To read the full article, click here.

Solar photovoltaic firm Solopower sells off equipment, prepares for layoffs

SoloPower, a manufacturer of photovoltaic solar modules, sold thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment from its California headquarters last week and is preparing for more layoffs, according to a report from the Oregonian.
The company recently avoided foreclosure on its Portland equipment by making a last-minute $50,800 payment on a $10 million loan from the Oregon Department of Energy, according to the report. The auction of the solar energy company’s California equipment came a week after the company laid off 61 employees in California. The company also plans to cut 33 more jobs in California in June and will shut down its plant in North Portland and lay off 29 employees there.

Written by Editors of Electric Light & Power/ POWERGRID International. To read the full article, click here