Largest Solar Photovoltaic Project in the World Now Fully Operational

Posted by 29 April, 2014 (0) Comment

Agua Caliente Solar Facility

April 29, 2014 CARLSBAD, Calif. & PHOENIX–(BUSINESS WIRE)–NRG Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NRG), through its wholly-owned subsidiary NRG Solar, along with partner MidAmerican Solar announced they have achieved substantial completion at their Agua Caliente Solar Photovoltaic Facility, a 290 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic facility located on 2,400 acres of land between Yuma and Phoenix, Ariz. The electricity that is generated by the station, which can support 230,000 homes at peak capacity, is being sold to Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

“It is exciting to see this project become fully operational and begin to realize the full benefit of emissions savings with the clean energy generated at Agua Caliente.”

“Large-scale utility accomplishments, like our Agua Caliente project, raise the bar in terms of our clean-energy technology and production,” said Tom Doyle, president, NRG Solar. “Proving that we can build both the world’s largest solar thermal and now one of the world’s largest solar photovoltaic facilities advance NRG’s mission to reshape the energy landscape that is incredibly beneficial to both the economy and in how we produce and consume energy. Whether it’s partnering, developing or investing, NRG will lead the way in providing a diverse set of solutions and technologies to get the US to the ultimate goal of providing affordable, reliable clean energy for everyone.”

The Agua Caliente project uses clean solar power to avoid the annual emission of approximately 324,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is the equivalent of taking nearly 70,000 cars off the road. The creation of 400 jobs during the project’s construction provided a boost to the local economy and it benefits the environment by producing clean, renewable energy. The project received a $967 million loan guarantee from the US Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office.

“In 2012, our company made a commitment to invest in its first utility-scale solar project to foster economic development while demonstrating our commitment to the environment,” said Richard Weech, chief financial officer, MidAmerican Renewables, who also oversees the activities of MidAmerican Solar. “It is exciting to see this project become fully operational and begin to realize the full benefit of emissions savings with the clean energy generated at Agua Caliente.”

The Agua Caliente Solar Project was named Solar Project of the Year by Renewable Energy World, a leading industry magazine, and PV Project of the Year by Solar Power Generation USA, the industry’s leading utility-scale solar power conference.

Agua Caliente is the largest of 10 operational utility-scale solar PV facilities in three states in which NRG has ownership interest. Agua Caliente is also one of several NRG assets that are subject to a Right of First Offer Agreement between NRG and its publicly owned subsidiary, NRG Yield, Inc. (NYSE: NYLD). First Solar, Inc. designed and constructed the project using its advanced thin-film photovoltaic modules and will operate and maintain the facility for NRG and MidAmerican Solar.

Photos from First Solar's Agua Caliente site in Arizona.

About NRG and NRG Solar

NRG is leading a customer-driven reinvention of the US energy industry by delivering cleaner and smarter energy choices – and solar power is a great resource to provide a more sustainable (and more affordable) lifestyle. From the world’s largest photovoltaic project to professional sports stadium rooftops to customizable canopies to parking covers, NRG Solar’s innovative solutions reduce environmental impact and demonstrate the availability and performance of cleaner energy choices to a broad public audience. A Fortune 500 company, NRG creates value through reliable and efficient conventional generation while driving innovation in solar and renewable power, electric vehicle ecosystems, carbon capture technology and customer-centric energy solutions. NRG’s retail electricity providers serve almost three million customers throughout the country. More information is available at nrgenergy.com and nrgsolar.com. Connect with NRG Energy and NRG Solar on Facebook and follow us on Twitter@nrgenergy and @nrgsolar.

About MidAmerican Renewables and MidAmerican Solar

MidAmerican Renewables, LLC owns and operates wind, geothermal, solar and hydro projects in the unregulated renewables market. MidAmerican Renewables is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, and has offices in Phoenix, Ariz., and Calipatria, Calif. Information about MidAmerican Renewables is available on the company’s website and its Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages, which can be accessed via www.midamericanrenewablesllc.com.

MidAmerican Solar is a subsidiary of MidAmerican Renewables and is headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz. MidAmerican Solar’s projects include the 550-megawatt Topaz Solar Farms in San Luis Obispo County, Calif.; the 579-megawatt Solar Star projects, two projects co-located in Kern and Los Angeles counties in California; and the 290-megawatt Agua Caliente project in Yuma County, Ariz. More information is available at www.midamericanrenewablesllc.com.

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A Robot that Cleans Solar Panels

Posted by 8 April, 2014 (0) Comment

By Tom Lombardo, Engineering.com

Deserts are ideal locations for solar farms – they get a lot of sunshine and the land is relatively inexpensive. On the other hand, their arid nature means that a lot of sand flies around, and sand on a photovoltaic panel blocks valuable sunlight, decreasing its output. Depending on location and weather conditions, dusty panels could decrease solar farm production by 3% to 15% in a given month. Periodic cleaning ensures that the panels get as much light as possible, but it’s a labor intensive process that may not pay for itself.

Ecoppia, an upstart company out of Israel, has an innovative, water-free solution: the E4 robotic PV cleaning system that dusts the panels using a self-cleaning microfiber cloth.

Please see link above for complete article. Video below courtesy of Ecoppia.

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KYOCERA Solar Captures Sun and Creates Shade at Tucson Airport

Posted by 19 December, 2013 (0) Comment

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Scottsdale, AZ – December 19, 2013 – As the holiday travel season begins, Kyocera Solar Inc. today announced that its industry-leading solar modules were selected to power the first phase of a 2.5MW parking lot canopy installation at Tucson International Airport. The 1MW first phase of the photovoltaic (PV) array, which offsets about a fifth of the terminal complex’s total power needs, is now operational and a dedication ceremony will be held at 11 am Mountain Time, December 20.

The project converts the abundant sunshine in “The Old Pueblo” into renewable energy powering the airport’s main terminal. It’s part of the airport’s ongoing environmental efforts, utilizing $5.7 million in funding awarded by the Federal Aviation Administration and $280,000 contributed by the Arizona Department of Transportation to offset a federal grant matching requirement.

Collaboration with Natural Power & Energy helped ensure that the system was properly sized for the airport’s power output and glare avoidance requirements. By working closely with Tucson-based contractor Barker-Morrissey Contracting, the Design-Build team was able to meet the tight installation deadlines of the 5-acre first phase with time to spare.

“Airports are an ideal location for solar canopies because of the large amounts of space they can cover, additionally serving as desired shade to cars parked for hours or even days,” said Steve Hill, president, Kyocera Solar Inc. “We are glad to have completed this first phase before the busy travel season; it’s a nice holiday bonus to know that part of the electricity usage in the main terminal is being offset by the parking lot’s large solar array. Kyocera Solar is proud to power this important project in our home state.”

The solar canopy structure is a 20-foot tall curved, open-lattice design comprised exclusively of efficient, durable Kyocera modules that create shade for parking spaces. Vegetated “green walls” are also planned, which will use live plants to create a cooling microclimate effect in the parking area. There is no additional charge for the parking spaces under the solar canopy.

This project’s federal grant is part of a program that provides funding for airport projects that promote energy efficiency under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

“Kyocera’s responsibilities with every project are to assist throughout the lifecycle of that installation,” Hill stated. “Our technical expertise in addition to our 38 years of high quality module production experience adds value and can help reduce project costs. Kyocera’s success depends on our customer’s success.”

Construction on the main public parking lot began in May 2013, kicking off a three-phase installation expected to be completed in 2-3 years. Work has already begun on phase 2 in the remaining 7 acres of the parking area.

Tucson joins Chicago’s Midway as another major airport going green with Kyocera. Midway’s Quick Turn Around rental car washing and refueling facility was outfitted with Kyocera photovoltaic solar modules in October 2013.

To learn more about Kyocera Solar Solutions for both residential and commercial projects, please contact infosolar@kyocera.com or 800-223-9580.

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US Antidumping Tariffs Could Suspend 45 Percent of Solar Module Shipments to North America

Posted by 29 May, 2012 (0) Comment

MICHAEL SHEPPARD, iSuppli.com

U.S. government antidumping penalties on imports of photovoltaic (PV) cells from China could suspend nearly half of solar module shipments to North America this year, impacting pricing, inventories and project timelines, according to an IHS iSuppli PV Perspectives report from information and analytics provider IHS (NYSE: IHS).

The U.S. Department of Commerce on May 17 announced a preliminary determination in its antidumping duty  investigation of imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells from China. These cells are used in modules that form complete solar systems installed on houses, buildings or commercial PV-generation facilities.

Before this announcement was made, IHS estimated that 2 gigawatts (GW) worth of solar modules shipped into North America in 2012 would be imported from Chinese manufacturers. This would have represented as much as 60 percent of the market for North American use.

Given the high tariffs proposed by the Commerce Department, many Chinese players will suspend shipments to North America while business plans are modified to account for the tariff. This could represent the temporary removal of up to 1.5GW worth of stopped shipments to the region, accounting for 45 percent of the total market in 2012

“The Commerce Department action will have a major impact on the North American solar market, constraining supplies and driving up prices for modules and systems,” said Mike Sheppard, photovoltaics analyst with IHS. “Even when alternative supply lines are adopted, the penalties are likely to add as much as 12 percent to the cost of solar modules, lowering the average return on investment (ROI) for solar systems in the region by as much as 2.5 percent.”

Solar Flare Up
The Commerce Department preliminarily determined that Chinese producers/exporters sold solar cells in the United States at dumping margins ranging from 31.14 percent to 249.96 percent.

The Commerce Department’s mandatory respondents were Suntech-Power and Trina Solar, and these two companies were subject to unique tariff rates of 31.22 and 31.14 percent, respectively. All other companies singled out in the investigation received an average duty of 31.2 percent. However, Chinese companies not singled out in the investigation will receive an even larger 250 percent duty.

The reasoning the Commerce Department gave for the large tariff on these players is to deter Chinese companies from forming new joint-venture companies with existing firms that are not on the list of penalized entities.

The duties to be imposed are preliminary in nature and will need to be finalized by both the Commerce Department and International Trade Commission (ITC) through final determinations on October 9 and November 23 of this year. However, these duties will be enacted retroactively 90 days prior to the date ofthe preliminary decision in February 2012 if they are imposed.

The Outsourcing Option
Interestingly, the Commerce Department included this statement in its announcement:

“Modules, laminates, and panels produced in a third country from cells produced in the PRC are covered by this investigation; however, modules, laminates, and panels produced in the PRC from cells produced in a third country are not covered by this investigation.”

For the Chinese module suppliers, this represents an opportunity to sidestep the tariffs.

“The Commerce Department statement means that many Chinese cell manufacturers will be incentivized to outsource to third-party companies in other countries in order to get around the duties,” Sheppard said. “A popular option will be to utilize cell specialists operating in Taiwan. This will allow the Chinese players to avoid the high tariffs ranging from 34 to 250 percent. However, such a strategy also will add 10 to 12 percent additional cost for the modules, based on the margins required from the third-party contract manufacturers and from additional logistics charges.”

System-level Impact
The impact of the outsourcing to Taiwan will be somewhat more limited on solar system prices compared to module prices. System pricing behaves in a different manner from module pricing given the additional cost elements involved.

Accounting for a 10 percent increase in total module cost based on the cell outsourcing strategy mentioned above, the cost of installation for a ground solar system rises to $2.65 per watt, up from $2.56 per watt.

As a result, the ROI for solar installations is expected to only decline by 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent based on the cell outsourcing strategy.

“This reduced ROI means some investors may think twice when valuing other vehicles to put their money,” Sheppard said. “However, most investors will not be deterred.”

Inventory Story
Solar module inventory levels will quickly deplete in North America based on the lower shipments from Chinese players, increasing module prices as a result given that Chinese modules were also the most aggressively priced. These price increases will be passed onto the system level, negatively affecting ROI for projects installed this year.

Learn More >  IHS iSuppli PV Perspectives

About IHS (www.ihs.com)
IHS (NYSE: IHS) is the leading source of information, insight and analytics in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape. Businesses and governments in more than 165 countries around the globe rely on the comprehensive content, expert independent analysis and flexible delivery methods of IHS to make high-impact decisions and develop strategies with speed and confidence. IHS has been in business since 1959 and became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, IHS employs more than 5,500 people in more than 30 countries around the world.

IHS is a registered trademark of IHS Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners. © 2012 IHS Inc. All rights reserved.
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New Jersey’s Largest Sawmill Looks to The Sun To Save On Energy Bills

Posted by 22 May, 2012 (0) Comment

Riephoff Sawmill

Solis Partners, a leading provider of commercial solar power systems, has announced that it has completed the installation of a 243-kilowatt solar photovoltaic (PV) system at Riephoff Sawmill.  Located in Monmouth County in the borough of Upper Freehold, N.J., the Riephoff facility is New Jersey’s largest hardwood sawmill.

The system was designed, engineered and constructed by Manasquan, N.J.-based Solis Partners and comprises of two ground-mounted systems — a 165-kilowatt array that generates power for the sawmill and a 78-kilowatt array that generates power for additional facilities on the property, which include a barn for livestock and an aquafarm.

Located at 763 Route 524, the Riephoff Sawmill is a family-owned business that has been supplying the Northeast with high quality lumber products for the industrial, construction and manufacturing industries for more than 45 years. The two solar systems are housed within the company’s 7-acre yard that is used for scaling and storing logs.

“We are thrilled to announce the completion of this innovative project,” said Jamie Hahn, co-founder and managing director of Solis Partners. “This project allows Riephoff to lower its operating costs and acts as a hedge against the rising costs of electricity, which is especially important in a state that has some of the nation’s highest electricity rates. The ability to produce clean, renewable energy is also very important to Riephoff as an organization reliant on the natural environment for raw materials.”

The 15,000-square-foot mill, which includes a 56-inch circular saw and a 20-foot frick carriage, a device used to pass large pieces of lumber through the saw, as well as the pumps needed for aquafarming, requires a lot of electricity. The solar PV system offsets approximately 100 percent of Riephoff’s electricity consumption, which equates to approximately $36,000 in annual savings.

Built with 1,036 solar PV panels, the solar system will produce approximately 300,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity in the first year of operation. This equates to the reduction of more than 456,000 pounds of CO2 emissions, which is the equivalent of offsetting the power demand of 26 residential homes or removing 40 cars from the road each year.

“We care about the environment,” said John Falconio, principal at Riephoff. “Because our company relies on natural resources, we continuously implement projects and methods that are environmentally responsible. However, the decision to pursue a solar project was easy because there is a strong business case in addition to the environmental benefits.”

Riephoff, which produces products from fencing and posts to hardwood crane mats, which are used to support the weight of a crane, is very resourceful in its operations. Riephoff buys approximately 98 percent of its timber locally and harvests all its wood responsibly, using consultants — when necessary — and techniques that best ensure the rejuvenation of the trees.

“There’s a big misconception that when you cut timber it never grows back, but it’s quite the opposite, “ said Falconio. “We cut timber in a way that we can continue to do so for years to come. And whatever we cut, we use – the only thing we don’t sell is the  buzz and sawdust. Scrap pieces get recycled into landscape mulch, sawdust goes for horse bedding and anything that can’t be sold we use in our wood burning stove.  When managed appropriately, timber is truly a renewable resource.”

“In this business, to stay competitive, you have to be as efficient as possible,” said Falconio. “This solar system is an extension of the efficiency strategies we employ throughout the business, and with plans for expansion with our aquafarming business, the timing was perfect.”

About Solis Partners
Solis Partners is a leading turnkey provider of solar power systems for commercial, industrial, utility and nonprofit clients. Solis specializes in financing, constructing and operating distributed solar power plants that enable clients to meet their long-term energy needs while reducing operating costs and addressing their carbon liabilities. Solis is committed to providing its clients with the most efficient and cost effective path to solar. Solis Partners is headquartered in Manasquan, N.J. For more information, please call (732) 800-0052, or visit www.solispartners.com.

About Riephoff Sawmill

Family-owned since 1964, Riephoff Sawmill, based out of Upper Freehold, N.J., is New Jersey’s largest hardwood sawmill. Servicing clients throughout the northeast and Canada, Riephoff offers top quality lumber products for industrial, construction and manufacturing industries. For more information about Riephoff and its products, please visit www.riephoffsawmill.com.

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Borrego Solar Completes 3.4 MW Solar Power Installation at Edwards Air Force Base

Posted by 3 March, 2012 (0) Comment

© 2012 Borrego Solar Systems, Inc.

SAN DIEGO, Calif.–February 28, 2012—Borrego Solar Systems, Inc., a leading designer, installer and financier of grid-tied government solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, today announced the completion of a 3.4 megawatt (MW) solar power installation at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California. Comprised of 3 ground-mounted, single-axis tracking solar farms, the system is the largest military project completed by Borrego Solar to date, and demonstrates the value of the company’s end-to-end solar power installation services for military facilities.

The system was financed via Borrego Solar’s in-house Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Per the agreement, Borrego Solar financed, designed and installed the system at no upfront cost to Edwards Air Force Base. Borrego Solar will sell energy back to Edwards Air Force Base at an economical and fixed rate, offsetting an average of 6 percent of the energy consumption across the three facilities.

“As we work to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, solar energy is one of the most reliable and cost-effective tools available to us,” said Ms Amy Frost, Chief of the Civil Engineer Asset Management Branch for Edwards Air Force Base. “Financing large-scale projects can be tough in this economic climate, so a PPA made a lot of sense for us, as it eliminated the need for upfront investment and long term maintenance. The deal allowed us to quickly implement solar on our facility and deliver immediate operational savings.”

Scaling up efforts such as this to promote energy security, the Department of the Army recently established the Energy Initiatives Task Force (EITF) to oversee the Army’s goal of transitioning to 25 percent renewable energy use by 2025. Despite the Army’s goals, financing solar projects can still be a challenge. By entering into a PPA with Borrego Solar, military facility managers can move solar projects forward, and enjoy many of the benefits of solar energy while investing zero upfront capital costs.

“We are proud to have completed this project as it is a great example of how public-private partnerships can succeed and allow the development and installation of large-scale solar energy systems on government property,” said Mike Hall, CEO of Borrego Solar. “Edwards Air Force Base should be applauded for making renewable energy a priority at their facility. We look forward to continuing our work with military facility managers to help them take full advantage of the financial benefits that come from using solar to generate clean and sustainable energy, and local jobs.”

Borrego Solar continues to deliver on its mission to help federal organizations go solar. Last week, the company was awarded a contract by the General Services Administration (GSA), certifying it to provide solar installation services to federal agencies. Edwards Air Force Base is the largest project in Borrego Solar’s growing military portfolio to date. The company completed a nearly one MW project in 2010 at the Point Loma Navy Base in San Diego Bay.

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UCLA engineers create tandem polymer solar cells that set record for energy-conversion

Posted by 13 February, 2012 (0) Comment

In the effort to convert sunlight into electricity, photovoltaic solar cells that use conductive organic polymers for light absorption and conversion have shown great potential. Organic polymers can be produced in high volumes at low cost, resulting in photovoltaic devices that are cheap, lightweight and flexible.

In the last few years, much work has been done to improve the efficiency with which these devices convert sunlight into power, including the development of new materials, device structures and processing techniques.

In a new study, available online this week in the journal Nature Photonics, researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and UCLA’s California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI) report that they have significantly enhanced polymer solar cells’ performance by building a device with a new “tandem” structure that combines multiple cells with different absorption bands. The device had a certified power-conversion efficiency of 8.62 percent and set a world record in July 2011.

Further, after the researchers incorporated a new infrared-absorbing polymer material provided by Sumitomo Chemical of Japan into the device, the device’s architecture proved to be widely applicable and the power-conversion efficiency jumped to 10.6 percent — a new record — as certified by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

By using cells with different absorption bands, tandem solar cells provide an effective way to harvest a broader spectrum of solar radiation. However, the efficiency doesn’t automatically increase by simply combining two cells. The materials for the tandem cells have to be compatible with each other for efficient light harvesting, the researchers said.

Until now, the performance of tandem devices lagged behind single-layer solar cells, mainly due to this lack of suitable polymer materials. UCLA Engineering researchers have demonstrated highly efficient single-layer and tandem polymer solar cells featuring a low-band-gap–conjugated polymer specially designed for the tandem structure. The band gap determines the portion of the solar spectrum a polymer absorbs.

“Envision a double-decker bus,” said Yang Yang, a professor of materials science and engineering at UCLA Engineering and principal investigator on the research. “The bus can carry a certain number of passengers on one deck, but if you were to add a second deck, you could hold many more people for the same amount of space. That’s what we’ve done here with the tandem polymer solar cell.”

To use solar radiation more effectively, Yang’s team stacked, in series, multiple photoactive layers with complementary absorption spectra to construct a tandem polymer solar cell. Their tandem structure consists of a front cell with a larger (or high) band gap material and a rear cell with a smaller (or low) band gap polymer, connected by a designed interlayer.

When compared to a single-layer device, the tandem device is more efficient in utilizing solar energy, particularly by minimizing other energy losses. By using more than one absorption material, each capturing a different part of the solar spectrum, the tandem cell is able to maintain the current and increase the output voltage. These factors enable the increase in efficiency, the researchers said.

“The solar spectra is very broad and covers the visible as well as the invisible, the infrared and the UV,” said Shuji Doi, research group manager for Sumitomo Chemical. “We are very excited that Sumitomo’s low–band gap polymer has contributed to the new record efficiency.”

“We have been doing research in tandem solar cells for a much shorter length of time than in the single-junction devices,” said Gang Li, a member of the research faculty at UCLA Engineering and a co-author of the Nature Photonics paper. “For us to achieve such success in improving the efficiency in this short time period truly demonstrates the great potential of tandem solar cell technology.”

“Everything is done by a very low-cost wet-coating process,” Yang said. “As this process is compatible with current manufacturing, I anticipate this technology will become commercially viable in the near future.”

This study opens up a new direction for polymer chemists to pursue designs of new materials for tandem polymer solar cells. Furthermore, it indicates an important step towards the commercialization of polymer solar cells. Yang said his team hopes to reach 15 percent efficiency in the next few years.

Yang, who holds UCLA’s Carol and Lawrence E. Tannas Jr. Endowed Chair in Engineering, is also faculty director of the Nano Renewable Energy Center at the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA.

The study was supported by the National Science Foundation, the U.S Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the U.S. Office of Naval Research and the U.S. Department of Energy, together with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Sumitomo Chemical is one of Japan’s leading chemical companies, offering a diverse range of products globally in the fields of basic chemicals, petro-chemicals, IT-related chemicals and materials, agricultural chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. The company’s consolidated net sales for fiscal year 2010 were $23.8 billion.

The UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, established in 1945, offers 28 academic and professional degree programs and has an enrollment of more than 5,000 students. The school’s distinguished faculty are leading research to address many of the critical challenges of the 21st century, including renewable energy, clean water, health care, wireless sensing and networking, and cybersecurity. Ranked among the top 10 engineering schools at public universities nationwide, the school is home to nine multimillion-dollar interdisciplinary research centers in wireless sensor systems, nanoelectronics, nanomedicine, renewable energy, customized computing, and the smart grid, all funded by federal and private agencies.
(www.engineer.ucla.edu | www.twitter.com/uclaengineering)

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