Tag Archives: solar energy

Solar Market Predictions for 2015

IHS Technology analysts top 10 predictions for the 2015 global photovoltaic (PV) market

EL SEGUNDO, CALIF. (January 8, 2014) – While 2014 remained a challenging time for the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry, it marked an inflection point in the market’s development. According to a new white paper issued by the IHS Solar service at information and analytics provider IHS (NYSE: IHS), solar PV demand grew at a double-digit pace, largely due to policies in China and Japan; yet conditions remained extremely tough for suppliers.

“Through mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies, the supplier base consolidated further, as companies struggled with debt-laden balance sheets and a rapid shift in their customer base away from their traditional markets,” said Ash Sharma, senior research director for solar at IHS. “All signs point to a strengthening recovery of the solar industry in 2015, even if the recovery itself remains incredibly fragile.”

Solar Power Plant in Africa to Supply Europe

By 2018, a large solar power plant in the Tunisian part of the Sahara desert may start sending power to energy-hungry Western Europe. The company running the plant says once it is fully operational it will generate almost twice as much electricity as an average nuclear plant and supply two million homes in Europe.

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The Evolution and Future Growth of Renewable Energy

In 2014, major debates and discussions surrounding climate change and green living in the United States has placed an unprecedented focus on renewable energy. The future growth in the renewable energy sector is slated to be significant as American’s make an effort to minimize their energy footprint on Earth.

While the support and evolution of renewable energy technologies is growing rapidly in 2014, supporters of renewable energy have been considering and exploring such technologies for close to a century.

For instance, the technological growth during the World Wars lead to the military exploring different renewable energy sources. In the 1950’s, solar power began to be developed, with the first high power solar cell made of silicon developed in 1954. It provided 6% efficiency, with a cost of $286/watt.

The early 1970’s marked further interest, as the Club of Rome think tank published a report stating that Earth has finite resources.

During the 1980’s, a 1 megawatt solar power station was built in California. This was the first facility designed on a utility scale.

Nuclear power had been considered a serious possibility for clean energy, though the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear incident cast doubt on this as a viable energy source.

Throughout the early 2000’s, talk and use of renewable energies has increased significantly, with an 8% use in 2007 in the US. Europe also saw an increase, with a 62% new power generating capacity in 2009.

GeniusHour Leads to Solar Idea

Kiran-Ty

Ty Van De Motter and Kiran Krishnamurthi are two seventh graders at Ballard Brady Middle School in Pepper Pike, OH. During GeniusHour in Mrs. Lee Pop’s 7th grade Language Arts class they came up with an idea to build a solar lawn mower. GeniusHour is about an hour a week where the students can build whatever they want. It’s an idea that actually got its start at Google where they gave their employees 20% of their time to work on whatever they like.

Kiran and Ty believe that solar energy will play a big role in our future. They explain in their own words –

“Every year our world becomes more eco friendly. People come up with eco friendly cars and eco friendly heating systems, but what about an outdoors activity that works with the environment? Mowing your lawn! People complain about how it is too hot outside to mow the lawn, but they don’t focus on the benefits. All that radiant heat from the sun can be converted into a great source of energy, solar energy. When people mow their lawn they are outside in the sun. The sun’s energy can charge a solar panel. Our plan is to build a lawn mower that is powered by a solar panel. We will be connecting the panel to a battery so it does not blow up in our face. The panel will charge on its own but it can also be charging while people mow their lawn. We believe that this type of technology will “finish off” the gas-powered lawn mower.”

Kiran and Ty are currently writing to local business for sponsorships. They expect to finish their product before the end of the school year in June. If you would like to contact them please email them at kirankrishnamurthi11@gmail.com.

Best of luck boys!

The initial drawing-

solar-mower

Clean Energy Collective Powers Up Three More Utility-Scale Community-Owned Solar Facilities

CEC_Breckenridge_Arial

BOULDER, COLO. – (October 15, 2013) Three new community-owned solar PV facilities by community solar pioneer Clean Energy Collective (CEC) began delivering power to ratepayers in Colorado this week, bringing to 10 the number of shared utility-scale arrays operating in the state. An additional 10 facilities, about 5 MW, are in the development pipeline for Colorado.

The resort town of Breckenridge, Colo. is now host to two 500 kW community-owned solar facilities that will serve Xcel Energy customers in Summit County. Both systems were sold out before construction was complete. A 400 kW community-owned system perched on a former Air Force hangar is also now delivering clean power to Denver County ratepayers. Combined with the 106 kW original array on the historic Hangar 2 building, this creates the nation’s largest building integrated PV (BIPV) installation at over 500 kW.

Introduced in 2010, CEC’s community-owned solar model (COS) was designed to provide every ratepayer in a utility territory the opportunity to purchase individual solar panels in a shared, locally-sited, utility-scale array. This innovation opens up solar PV ownership to renters, people in multi-dwelling buildings, properties with poor solar exposure, and individuals of all income levels. Because they are sited and maintained for maximum production, utility-scale facilities provide more energy for longer than smaller, individual systems, allowing for a faster and greater financial return.

“Our model is not supplanting people who want to and can put solar on their house, but rather opening the market to the other 75% of electric users who have until now faced insurmountable barriers,” said CEC founder Paul Spencer.

While community solar makes PV energy available to everyone on the grid, real traction for rapid deployment has come from its broad appeal for utilities. Large IOU’s, municipal utilities, and rural cooperatives can add solar to their mix with a turn-key solution. It provides in-network, reliable, utility-scale clean energy generation at reasonable power rates that applies nicely to RPS requirements without capital outlay or responsibility for monitoring, customer administration, operations and maintenance.

CEC has partnered with six utilities so far in Colorado, including 11 facilities rewarded through Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Communities program. Once complete, access to solar ownership will be available to more than 95% of Colorado ratepayers. CEC has also installed the state’s first community-owned solar gardens for New Mexico, Minnesota, and Vermont, and has topped $40 million in facility developments.

“CEC has cracked the code, opening a consumer solar market that is four-times larger than the onsite solar marketplace as we have traditionally known it,” said Nikhil Garg, Vice President of Black Coral Capital, a Boston-based investment firm focused on cleantech and alternative energy.

About Clean Energy Collective (CEC)
Colorado-based Clean Energy Collective is a developer of community-based renewable energy facilities and a national leader in community power generation. CEC pioneered the model of delivering clean power-generation through utility-scale facilities that are collectively owned by participating utility customers, establishing the first community-owned solar garden in the country near El Jebel, Colorado. Today, CEC has 23 community-owned facilities online or in development, representing more than 10 MW of community-sited clean energy.

What Makes Solar Energy a Good Investment?

This article is part of a Mosaic series on investments that create positive social, environmental, and financial returns. Read more about what makes a truly good investment.

Five years after the Great Recession, most Americans have yet to regain their faith in our country’s largest financial institutions. The Dow is up, but the latest Financial Trust Index shows that 58% of Americans expect the stock market to drop 30% or more this year. Meanwhile, a recent Harris Poll noted that only seven percent of the public trusts the leaders of Wall Street.

Strangely, the same poll which found that most Americans think stock prices will decline also found that 92% of Americans plan to hold or increase their investments in the stock market.

What’s going on here?

Why do we put our money in institutions that we don’t trust and investments that we think are going to decline in value?

The problem comes down to a lack of quality investment options. It’s hard to access a mix of investments that will provide reliable returns over the long run. Add in criteria about not investing in harmful or risky industries and the task of finding a good investment can start to look impossible.

Fortunately, solar energy is a good investment for Americans, particularly when paired with new kinds of investment marketplaces like Mosaic. Here is how we think about our investment product:

Financial Returns

Big banks are good at financing big projects. But for smaller projects, like commercial scale solar energy, big banks lend at exorbitant interest rates, if they lend at all. This fact makes it possible for Mosaic to make solar energy loans with interest rates that are lower than those charged by banks, but still high enough to provide competitive returns for investors.

To date, over 1,500 investors have used the Mosaic platform to provide more than $2.1 million in financing to projects in California, New Jersey, and Arizona. The expected annual returns on our most recent loans has been between 4.5% and 6.38%. With 10 year Treasuries at near historic lows (1.90%), CDs at 0.5% APY, bonds averaging 5.20% from 2003-2012 and stocks in the S&P 500 averaging 4.95% annualized returns from 2003-2012, Mosaic’s expected yields are competitive with the best investment products on the market.

Financial Risks

Like all investments, solar energy investments through Mosaic do not come without risks. Transparency is a core value, so we post the prospectus of each project on our website and encourage investors to read the prospectuses in order to understand the risks associated with our investments. Specifically, the broad categories of risk facing solar projects include credit risk (a borrower defaults), technology risk (solar panels fail), weather risk (a storm destroys solar panels), or operational risk (Mosaic goes out of business).

In the case of credit risk, Mosaic offers debt, rather than equity, financing for solar projects. if a project encounters a problem, our investors recoup their money first. We also employ rigorous underwriting procedures, which involve not only Mosaic’s project finance team, but also third party lawyers, engineers, and insurance experts to review every project. Finally, looking to the future, we recently helped found a solar industry consortium called truSolar, which aims to standardize the risk evaluation process for solar projects. Founding members of the group include 16 leading businesses and research groups, from DuPont and Standard and Poors to the Rocky Mountain Institute. By working with other thought leaders to establish best practices for risk evaluation, we aim to drive down financing costs across the solar industry.

In the case of technology risk, solar equipment is itself very reliable, to the point that manufacturers typically offer 25-year warranties for solar panels and solar inverters. Insurance for events like fires or hurricanes adds another layer of protection against weather risks.

Finally, in the event that Mosaic goes out business, we have entered into a backup servicing and successor agreement with Portfolio Financial Servicing Co. (www.pfsc.com) that would ensure the servicing of all issued loans. PFSC is one of the largest third party lease, loan and structured settlement servicers in the U.S., with $11 billion under management.

Where Does Distributed Solar Fit in a Balanced Portfolio?

For most investors, financial risk and return information doesn’t mean much outside the context of a broader portfolio. Most individuals and institutions invest in a portfolio of assets. We might invest in the stock market and in municipal bonds. Maybe we invest in ourselves, via payments for education, or in our homes, via expenditures on energy efficiency. So where do Mosaic’s investment products fit into this mix?

Our investment products function much like a bond. Debt generally lacks the significant upside potential of a stock (investors won’t earn more than the projected annual interest rate), but has less downside risk as well. Investors are repaid their loans, with interest, on a monthly basis. Investors could look at a Mosaic product to fulfill the same role in a portfolio as Treasuries or other kinds of fixed income investments.

More broadly, we see our products offering a hedge against two types of market risk.

First, because our investments are in tangible, localized assets, they are “uncorrelated” and offer a hedge against dramatic shifts in global markets. If you’re heavily invested in major corporations or commodities, investing in community-based assets could make good sense.

Second, our investments hedge against the increasingly systemic risks facing fossil fuels. Energy is the world’s largest industry, and so it should come as no surprise that energy investments make up a large chunk of the portfolios of institutional and individual investors alike. Global energy markets have experienced major swings for fossil fuel prices in recent years — oil, for instance, running up two historic price peaks with a crash in between, or gas plummeting in cost, and now rapidly rising — and it’s only going to get worse. In particular, we think it’s important for investors to understand that fossil fuel companies are betting against action on climate change. HSBC recently warned that the top 200 fossil fuel companies could see a 40-60% decline in their equity value if governments take action to curb climate change. Mosaic investments represent a way to start moving away from fossil fuels before the bubble bursts.

Compounded Good

If you invest in an index or mutual fund, or keep your savings in an account with a national bank, there’s a strong chance you are financing the operations of some of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies. As a father, I see this as illogical. What’s the point of making an investment that will pay for my childrens’ future if it also harms the world they inherit?

Mosaic investments run in the opposite direction. Our investors have so far financed enough solar energy to power 95 typical American homes every year. They’re creating societal gain, without compromising their personal gain.

But let’s break that down a bit further. The magic of investment is that it compounds. So what kind of compounded good could we create?

Well, our first fifteen hundred investors have put in $2.3 million. Assuming they all reinvested their money in new solar projects, and assuming they earn a rate of 4.5%, in ten years they would have a little over $3.6 million invested in solar energy. In twenty years, they’d be approaching $5.6 million invested, enough to power perhaps 600 American homes every year.

At Mosaic we believe the fastest way to create a 100% clean energy economy is to let everyone benefit from it. That’s why we work every day to create a rock solid, accessible clean energy investment.

AMECO Announces Solar 101 Community Workshop

Solar 101 Community Workshop, AMECO Solar, Long Beach

AMECO Solar announced a free Solar 101 Community Workshop on Wednesday, May 1 from 6:30 to 7:30 pm in Long Beach, CA.

Organized by AMECO, the workshop will teach you how to use the sun’s power to benefit your home or business.  Our team of experts will go over the basics of solar energy in addition to other topics including: how much money you can save with solar, how to finance a solar installation and how to choose the best solar system and solar installer.  Attendees will be given the chance to ask questions at the end of the workshop.

Patrick Redgate, our President & CEO commented, “After thirty nine years in the solar business, we have accumulated a lot of knowledge about solar. We want to pass this information on to the community and hope that our session will inspire more people to consider solar, making their homes and business more sustainable.”

There are a limited amount of spaces available so register today to lock in your spot at the Solar 101 Community Workshop.  Fill out a brief form on our Solar 101 Registration page or call us at (562) 633-4400. We hope to see you there!