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World’s largest solar battery? Tesla’s may get beat

In El Centro, Imperial Irrigation Districts unveils large battery storage system. Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun.

ALM SPRINGS, Calif. — An energy company wants to build another huge solar farm in the California desert — and it may come with the world’s biggest battery.

That battery would be triple the size of the one Tesla drew worldwide attention for building in Australia last year.

(Photo: Susan Montoya Bryan, AP)

The Crimson solar project would span 2,500 acres of public land south of Interstate 10, east of Palm Springs at the base of the Mule Mountains.

San Francisco-based developer Recurrent Energy has asked the federal government for permission to build 350 megawatts of solar power at the site and up to 350 megawatts of battery storage. The biggest battery currently in existence is a 100-megawatt system that Elon Musk’s Tesla, the electric-car maker and solar energy provider, installed in Australia.

It’s unclear whether Recurrent will actually build a 350-megawatt battery. It doesn’t have a buyer for the electricity yet, and the federal permitting process will take several years.

An encouraging sign

Still, experts say it’s an encouraging sign for the clean energy industry to see Recurrent planning for that big a battery.

There’s a growing need for energy storage in California, where the rapid growth of solar power has led to excess electricity in the middle of the day and a reliance on polluting natural-gas plants when the sun goes down. Energy storage could help solve that problem by making solar electricity available in the evenings.

Fortunately for California, the costs of battery storage have fallen dramatically the last few years. The result is a growing market for more and bigger batteries.

“This is something that we’re going to see a lot more of — solar companies baking in the potential, if not the outright installation, of storage into their systems,” said Daniel Finn-Foley, an energy storage analyst with GTM Research, a clean-tech consulting firm. “If you’re looking ahead three, four, five years out, it’s going to be increasingly a story about storage’s ability to enhance large, utility-scale solar.”

“If they actually installed 350 megawatts, that would be a bombshell,” he said.

It’s hard to say how much electricity a 350-megawatt battery would actually store. That varies based on a battery’s duration, or how many hours it can operate at full capacity.

And ultimately, how much storage Recurrent builds will depend on market demand. Possible customers for Crimson include big utilities such as Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric, as well as city- and county-led energy programs known as community choice aggregators, or CCAs, that are increasingly replacing traditional utilities.

‘We’ll build it’

“If someone wants it, we’ll build it,” said Scott Dawson, Recurrent’s director of permitting.

Riverside County, where Recurrent would build, is already home to four big solar farms.

Conservationists have opposed many of the big solar farms that have been built or proposed in the California desert, seeing them as sprawling industrial facilities that could harm iconic but threatened species such as the desert tortoise and bighorn sheep. The California desert is one of the largest intact ecosystems in the lower 48 states, and it already has been degraded by urban sprawl, highways and other human activities.

But it’s possible Crimson will avoid the fierce environmental battles that have slowed or halted other solar farms.

Dawson, Recurrent’s director of permitting, said the company has reconfigured the project to avoid the most sensitive habitat. Crimson would disrupt 30 acres of sand dune habitat used by the Mojave fringe-toed lizard — down from 580 acres under a previous plan of development — and just 1.2 acres of biodiversity-rich microphyll woodlands, down from 95 acres under the previous plan. It wouldn’t infringe on any critical habitat for the desert tortoise, which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

 Why California leads

So far, the solar industry has grown fastest in California, driven in part by state policies to speed the transition to climate-friendly energy sources. The state got 17% of its electricity from solar and wind in 2016, the most recent year for which the California Energy Commission has data. The state also added 95 megawatts of storage last year, according to GTM Research — nearly half of the total storage added nationwide. That includes big storage projects such as those typically paired with rooftop solar panels.

But energy storage is also taking off in places such as Arizona, Hawaii and Texas, and other markets are likely to follow as costs continue to fall. Finn-Foley, from GTM Research, said lithium-ion batteries saw “spectacular price declines” of up to 30% in 2015 and 2016 and should continue to get up to 8% cheaper every year for the next few years.

Already, California officials have started rejecting proposed gas plants and asking utilities for more batteries instead. Finn-Foley thinks that before too long, economics will make the choice between a new gas plant and a solar-plus-storage facility an easy one.

“Within five years, batteries could potentially compete head to head,” he said. “Within 10 years, I think storage wins.”

Recurrent Energy was founded in 2006 and acquired in 2015 by Canadian Solar, an Ontario-based solar panel manufacturer that has operations in two dozen countries. Recurrent has developed 2 gigawatts, or 2,000 megawatts, of operating solar projects, including several large facilities in Kern County, Calif.

Source: Usatoday


Strata Solar to build largest solar power plant in Washington

The 28 MW-DC plant is part of an upcoming commercial and industrial solar program – Solar Solect – being offered by local power company Avista Utilities. The state expects to triple total solar capacity by the end of 2020.

 Strata Solar will break ground on what will be the largest solar power plant in Washington State on May 24th. The company expects to complete commissioning in late October, and the utility is planning for the project to begin delivering electricity December 1st.

The Lind County facility will be a 19.2 MW-AC/28 MW-DC single axis tracker plant. Currently the largest plant in Washington State is only 500 kW, and was commissioned in 2009.

Strata Solar SunGrow inverters – originally specifying the SG125HV, NexTracker to supply a tracking solution and Hanwha Q-Cells 345/350 W solar modules.

The Solar Foundation’s State Scorecard, via data from SEIA and GTM Research, suggests that the state has installed 111 MW of solar in total.

This plant is part of a trio of large projects coming to the state that are expected to triple the total capacity, on their own, in less than three years. There is a plan to build 180 MW plant is being developed atop an old coal strip mine, however at last check this project did not yet have a power contract.

John Knight, chief development officer at Strata, said in comments to pv magazine that the new power plant would be the largest infrastructure project in the region for the last 15 years, as well as Strata’s first significant solar project in the western United States.

When asked specifically about the complexity of the interconnection process by pv magazine, Knight commented:

Working with Avista was great. The interconnection process was very smooth, one of the more efficient interactions with a utility I’ve had.

Strata Solar will own and manage the project for Avista, while leasing the 170 acres for the project. The specific site location was chosen from several due to its sunny location within the state, plus being close to Avista’s currently existing transmission infrastructure.

Solar Select (where companies can register for the program) – is one of 15 “green tariff” programs being offered across the United States so that companies can meet sustainability goals. Avista suggests that between 40 and 80 commercial customers will purchase the output of the 28 MW project.

As has been the case with other utilities, Avista’s creation of this program is likely a reaction to customer demands. Utilities in Washington were put on alert when Microsoft announced plans to buy its own electricity in the open market to power its operations in Puget Sound. The company is largely skipping the local utility – Puget Sound Energy – by paying a one-off exit fee.

When Strata Solar was asked about whether energy storage was considered, it was noted that the RFP from the utility didn’t request it, but that the company is developing 1.5 GW of storage projects throughout the United States.



New renewable energy capacity double fossil fuel growth in record-breaking 2017: UN report

Solar power is continuing to surge ahead as the world’s emerging energy technology, according to a United Nations report that found global spending on solar was higher than any other energy source in 2017.

In a record-breaking year for renewable energy creation worldwide, the 98 gigawatts of new solar capacity was higher than all other technologies, including other renewables, nuclear and fossil fuels.

Australia’s own spending on solar skyrocketed with a significant boost in investment from South Australia, according to Iain MacGill from UNSW.

“We have the highest [per capita] rooftop residential solar market in the world, and by quite a big margin,” Dr MacGill said.

“A large proportion of Australia’s investment has gone into South Australia [and that means] we’re at the leading edge of working out how to integrate that renewable power into the electricity market.”

But Australia was starting from a low base, according to the ANU’s Energy Change Institute director Ken Baldwin, who said our transition to renewables still has some way to go.

“What will be interesting to see is whether this can be maintained,” Professor Baldwin said.

“There was 6 gigawatts of solar, both residential and commercial installed in [Australia] in 2017.

According to the UN report, the proportion of the world’s electricity being generated by wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-energy, geothermal, marine and small hydro, rose from 11 to 12.1 per cent in 2017.

That equals a potential reduction of around 1.8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels – more than three times Australia’s entire carbon emissions for 2016.

The 157 gigawatts of new renewable power commissioned in 2017 was more than double the 70 gigawatts of net fossil fuel generating capacity added.

Integrating variable electricity sources into the grid and managing the energy market is now the key challenge for countries investing in renewables, according to report co-author and head of research at the Frankfurt School UNAP Centre, Ulf Moslener.

“The coming phase is mastering the structural change within the electricity sector,” Professor Moslener said.

“[Working out] how to apply business models to energy systems where the energy production costs are effectively zero.”

Value for money undermined by policy uncertainty

In total, Australia invested a record $8.5 billion in renewables in 2017 and got far greater value for money than just a few years earlier.

Australia’s renewable investment is being hampered by policy uncertainty. (Desert Knowledge Australia)

The price per watt of solar photovoltaics in Australia in 2017 was just $1.40, compared to $6.40 in 2010, according to the report.

Professor Baldwin said although the increased investment in renewables is encouraging, Australia’s ability to develop our renewable infrastructure is being stunted.


Tesla Begins Rolling Out Solar Roof Tile Installations In California

Several reports from customers on Twitter show that Tesla Solar Roof installations are starting to get out into the wild, with non-Tesla employees and even customers without a Tesla now getting rooftops full of Tesla’s Solar Roof Tiles.

The installations are exciting to see, as they show that the product is real and that Tesla is testing the waters with its product in low volumes with customers near its factory in Fremont, California. Additionally, it’s fun because we get our first real look into the installation process and the final product itself.

Solar LEGOs

First off, we can see from a pic from Twitter user @Toblerhaus that the roof tiles themselves come in blocks of a few tiles. This was mentioned earlier, with the rationale being that it helps to streamline the physical installation and wiring while also reducing the possible points of failure from a wiring or roof leakage standpoint.

The photo below shows an overhead shot of a Tesla Solar Roof mid-install. The solar roof tiles are boxed in blocks of 1 meter (3 feet). Up on the roof, the wiring is tucked into the supports under the roof tiles for protection from the water and sun.

Twitterer @triduchuynh shot out photos of the initial teardown by the roofing crew with pics three weeks later of the finished install. He mentioned that his home was selected by Tesla due to its close proximity to Tesla’s factory and its simple roof configuration, making for a less challenging installation.

Much like with the Model 3 launch, Tesla is clearly picking and choosing simpler configurations for the earlier installations of its Solar Roof Tiles to get crews up to speed. Having created a completely new product that’s a hybrid of roofing and solar, it’s exciting to see Tesla taking one of its many tech babies out into the real world for the first time. Perhaps more than that, it’s fantastic to see people getting excited about solar. Thanks for that, Tesla.

Built on a Firm Foundation
Tesla’s solar legos come with a mind-boggling lifetime warranty that ensures their physical integrity for the life of the home or infinity, whichever comes first (in typical Tesla fashion). To this end, the first installations reveal the underlayment that Tesla is mounting under the panels that gives them the confidence that the roof will indeed stand up to decades or even centuries of wear and tear.

The new installation photos reveal that Tesla’s installers laid a foundation of water barrier to keep the water out topped by a new wood structure to hold the water barrier down while also giving the solar roof tile building blocks a place to mount. The Titanium PSU 30 underlayment comes with a limited lifetime warranty of its own and, per the manufacturer, provides a robust rubberized asphalt barrier against water intrusion.

Bundled with Powerwall
All of the installs we found bundled the Solar Roof Tiles with Tesla’s Powerwall residential energy storage product, with one home featuring 3 of the massive 14 kWh units. That’s enough for the average American home to run off the grid for 3½ days without changing habits or even using energy produced by the solar panels.

One customer also commented that the Tesla installers were “amazing” to work with and that the Solar Roof Tiles were available faster than the Model 3. That’s no surprise considering how much more difficult it is to set up an entirely new battery assembly plant, supply chain, vehicle manufacturing lines, etc. compared to trialling a new style of solar collector at a small number of installations (which happened to include this home). Having said that, Tesla’s Solar Roof Tiles do seem to offer significant value to the customer with only a minimal visual footprint. Some might even say the Solar Roof Tiles are an aesthetic improvement compared to traditional roofing products — I know I like them better!

The Finished Product
The homes getting Tesla’s Solar Roof Tiles are paving the way for Tesla’s forecasted production ramp-up for the first two roof tile options. The launch of the third and fourth styles of roof tiles comes a bit later. Tesla’s textured, Tuscan, and slate tiles offer a look similar to traditional roofing products, while Tesla’s smooth glass tiles offer a more modern, sleek look than traditional roofing products — and will surely become a fixture in modern and postmodern homes in the years to come.

Jumping inside the home after the install, customers were eager to share the new intelligent energy-monitoring capabilities that come bundled with the products. Tesla’s smartphone app allows users to view solar energy production, consumption, and energy flow from the various sources and consumption units. For owners with a Tesla vehicle, Powerwall, and roof tiles, the flow of energy from all of these units is displayed and can be parsed out depending on the user’s preference.

The historicised display of energy production and consumption by source is a powerful tool, even at this macro level, to help users understand what appliances are drinking energy compared to how much power the solar panels are producing. The power of data is magnified when it is translated through simple charts.



Indian State To Launch 3 Gigawatts Of Solar & Wind Tenders Soon

The Indian state of Tamil Nadu is set to float tenders for solar and wind energy projects soon, as it hopes to aggressively increase its installed renewable energy capacity.

According to media reports, Tamil Nadu will issue tenders of 1.5 gigawatts each for solar and wind energy in a few days. The state utility Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) has been actively looking to increase renewable energy capacity in its power mix as the tariff bids for solar and wind energy projects have collapsed sharply over the last few months across the country.

TANGEDCO is likely to set upper limits for tariff bids that developers can submit in the auctions. For wind energy, the maximum permissible bid would likely by Rs 2.65/kWh (4.07¢/kWh) while for the solar power projects it would be Rs 3.00/kWh (4.61¢/kWh). If the limits are indeed implemented Tamil Nadu would be assured of the cheapest solar and wind power supply ever in its history.

Tamil Nadu had allocated 1.5 gigawatts of solar power capacity last year at prices ranging from Rs 3.47/kWh to Rs 4.00/kWh (5.33¢/kWh to 6.15¢/kWh). Thus, the new upper limit for solar power tariff is at a huge discount of 13.5% from the previous low for the state. The lowest solar power tariff in India is Rs 2.44/kWh (3.75¢/kWh) but the bids have now stabilized to around Rs 3.00/kWh (4.61¢/kWh).

The last wind energy auction organized by TANGEDCO saw allocation of 450 megawatts capacity at the lowest tariff of Rs 3.42/kWh (5.25¢/kWh), which was the lowest wind energy tariff bid at that time for the entire country. The lowest tariff for wind energy projects in India stands at Rs 2.43/kWh (3.73¢/kWh). The last wind energy auction held in India, by Maharashtra, yielded the lowest tariff bid of Rs 2.85/kWh (4.38¢/kWh), so the upper limit of Rs 2.65/kWh seems reasonable for a resource-rich state like Tamil Nadu.

Chances of success in the wind energy tender are higher compared to those in solar power tender. Recent solar power tenders issued by Maharashtra and Karnataka have seen lower participation from project developers due to concerns over increased price of modules and possibility of the government levying duties on imports.



Solar power lightens life

Solar power has become very popular in Bagerhat and many people are installing solar panels in their houses and shops as summer approaches.

Visiting Sangdia village in Kachua upazila, this correspondent found that people are installing solar panels, battery, light and fan for Tk 15,000.

A house with solar panels at Sangdia village in Kachua upazila of Bagerhat. PHOTO: STAR

“I have installed solar lights, fans and mobile phone charging sockets, which helps me much,” said Sabuj Das, a medicine shop owner in the village.

“In the day time, I do not have to switch off the fans as they take energy directly from the sun. At night I do not have to worry about load shedding as I can use the battery for lights,” he said.

“I have installed a solar panel, so I do not have to pay electricity bill,” said Pobitra Das of Sangdia village.

“I have installed two solar panels, although we have electricity. We use the fans and lights directly from the sunlight in the day time,” said Robi of Sangdia.

“We use five fans and 12 lights by rotation to keep cool in the scorching heat of the sun without any cost. At night we use the lights and fans during load-shedding,” he said.

“I am using an old battery from my van and bought a solar panel only for Tk 1,400 to use at night. I do not buy kerosene now as I do not need lamps anymore,” said van-puller Nazir Sheikh of Afra village.

“Using solar power is a good idea to save electricity with a small investment. I urge the people to use solar fans and solar lights instead of electricity,” said Bagerhat Pallibidyut Samity General Manager Motaher Hossain.

“At least 30,000 people in Bagerhat are using solar panels and more people are buying them,” he said.



Solar Power Energy Payback Time Is Now Super Short

This article is part of our “CleanTechnica Answer Box” collection. In this collection of articles, we respond to dozens of common anti-cleantech myths.

Some solar power critics seem to enjoy trying to point out that the energy payback time for solar power is too long, and therefore this form of renewable energy is not valid. Those critics have not kept up with the times or are simply lying to you.

Years ago, when solar cells were less efficient, there might have been some truth in questioning the energy payback of solar panels because they were most likely manufactured using electricity generated from coal, natural gas, or nuclear power and were less efficiently manufactured.

Today’s solar panels are more efficient, so they produce more electricity, and this fact along with more efficient manufacturing means that energy payback periods have decreased to just a few years. Research has found, “Energy payback estimates for rooftop PV systems are 4, 3, 2, and 1 years: 4 years for systems using current multicrystalline-silicon PV modules, 3 years for current thin-film modules, 2 years for anticipated multicrystalline modules, and 1 year for anticipated thin-film modules (see Figure 1). With energy paybacks of 1 to 4 years and assumed life expectancies of 30 years, 87% to 97% of the energy that PV systems generate won’t be plagued by pollution, greenhouse gases, and depletion of resources.”

Other estimates also show solar is viable and have tremendous energy payback periods. “In Australia, the International Energy Agency[vii] calculated the energy payback period for a solar power system to be under two years. This means a solar power system takes less than two years to generate enough energy to break even on the amount of energy taken to manufacture it.

“Based on models and data examined by both the International Energy Agency and the US Department of Energy[viii], solar panels do pay back their energy investment. With solar panels lasting as long as 25 years, they make more energy over their lifetime than it takes to manufacture the panel. Since the payback times are decreasing over time, we have now reached the point that even at this strong growth, the total installed PV capacity is a net producer of energy and a net GHG sink.”
Solar power has already been used in manufacturing, so it is at least in theory possible it will eventually be used to produce solar panels (and it must be in some places). Once solar power is being used to produce solar panels, the question is, what does energy payback even matter?

Solar cells might eventually made from cheaper and more efficient materials, which would decrease their production costs even more and perhaps increase their efficiency and energy payback period.

Misleading Metrics
Additionally, some of metrics, like energy payback, seem to be questionable in the way they are used by solar power critics and climate change deniers. For example, they don’t reference that the cost of continuing to use only fossil fuels are vastly greater than manufacturing and installing solar panels. “The share of national GDP at risk from climate change exceeds $1.5 trillion in the 301 major cities around the world. Including the impact of human pandemics – which are likely to become more severe as the planet warms — the figure increases to nearly $2.2 trillion in economic output at risk through 2025.”


The figures in the US are huge too. “Extreme weather, made worse by climate change, along with the health impacts of burning fossil fuels, has cost the U.S. economy at least $240 billion a year over the past ten years, a new report has found. And yet this does not include this past month’s three major hurricanes or 76 wildfires in nine Western states. Those economic losses alone are estimated to top $300 billion, the report notes.”

It’s very obvious that the financial costs of continuing to do business as usual are tremendous, but the human costs could be even greater.

Air pollution in China is so severe it may be contributing to 1.6 million human deaths per year. “Outdoor air pollution contributes to the deaths of an estimated 1.6 million people in China every year, or about 4,400 people a day, according to a newly released scientific paper.”

In the US, climate change actually may do severe financial damage to people who are already struggling. “The poorest third of US counties will likely lose up to 20 percent of their incomes, and regions such as the Pacific Northwest and New England will gain economically over the Gulf and Southern states, if climate change continues unmitigated through the end of the century, according to a new study co-led by two UC Berkeley researchers and published today in the journal Science.”

The critics of solar power fail to mention these fossil fuel costs over and over and over again. How could the fossil fuel industries even begin to pay for all the damage they have caused to human health and the planet? First of all, they wouldn’t do it, and they couldn’t afford it, so the fossil fuel damage payback time would be never.

What is the premature death payback time for coal power, or how about the oil spills payback time for petroleum companies? The Deepwater Horizon spill damage may very well still be occurring. “For those long-lived things like turtles and sperm whales and dolphins … they’re still in the middle of this. And we may not know for another 30 or 40 years where the impacts are,” said Larry McKinney, executive director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University. He made that remark in 2017, so perhaps we won’t know the full extent of the damage until at least 2047. By that time, will BP still be in business and will the company pay more than it has so far?

It is simply ludicrous to try to apply an energy payback standard to solar power, and yet, somehow, fossil fuels which have had an enormously damaging impact for years get off scot-free? Continuing to fail with only fossil fuels isn’t an option.



Sunnova Introduces Solar-Plus-Storage Offering “SunSafe”

Houston-based solar power company Sunnova has this week expanded its offerings to bring it into the solar-plus-storage market alongside its bigger-name competition Tesla and Sunrun with the introduction of its Sunnova SunSafe solar and home battery storage service.

As the residential solar market continues to expand, so too does the growing interest in combining residential solar systems with residential battery storage. The combination is a natural one, and further allows behind-the-meter residents to generate more of their electricity needs, regardless of when the sun is shining.
The solar-plus-storage option has already proven to be a success by competitors such as Tesla and Sunrun. Specifically, Sunrun introduced its Brightbox offering in March of 2016, allowing customers to install both solar and energy storage. More recently, Vivint Solar pushed out it’s own offering that takes things a step or two further — solar, energy storage, electric vehicle charging, and smart home.

Sunnova — a Houston-based company that outsources installation and maintenance to regional partners — announced on Tuesday that it too would be joining the solar-plus-storage market with its Sunnova SunSafe offering, starting with homeowners in California. Sunnova further boasts that it is now the only residential solar service that offers a 25-year solar-plus-storage lease with a comprehensive warranty and performance guarantee.

Sunnova’s customized solar-plus-storage system seeks to combine the two in the most energy efficient way possible, and uses intelligent control technology to manage how solar electricity is used or sold back to the grid to offset higher energy costs.

“Solar plus battery storage technology is a game-changer and California has been at the forefront of pro-storage policies,” said William J. Berger, CEO of Sunnova. “Sunnova SunSafe™ is a flagship offering in our portfolio that enables us to bring a superior solar plus battery storage offering to the market through our network of partners to better serve the needs of California homeowners.”

“The market demand for solar plus storage in California is clear—customers want smart, local, clean energy technologies that are resilient and reliable,” added Laura Gray, Energy Storage Policy Advisor for the California Solar & Storage Association. “We welcome Sunnova SunSafe™ to California as an option in the growing market to give customers control over their energy.”



India Offers $1 Billion To African Countries For Solar Projects

Following the first summit of the International Solar Alliance held in New Delhi recently, the Indian government has announced assistance worth $1 billion for implementation of solar power projects across several countries in Africa.

The Indian Ministry for External Affairs has outlined guidelines to make available the $1 billion assistance for 23 projects across 13 countries in Africa.

These countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger, Togo, Guinea, Democratic Republic Congo, Ghana, and Nigeria.
The International Solar Alliance was an idea floated by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and was launched in collaboration with the French government at the climate change summit in 2017.

The aim of the ISA is to support installation of 1,000 gigawatts of solar power capacity by 2030 globally. The Alliance also fits well in India’s strategic aspirations.

Targeting African countries with solar project funding puts India in direct competition with China which has had a long history of funding energy projects in Africa.

Sources told Indian news agencies that solar modules will be supplied by Indian manufacturers, likely at rates cheaper than those from Chinese manufacturers. If this is indeed the case, it would extend the trade war between Indian and Chinese solar cell and module manufacturers to outside the continent.

What India practices is by no means unethical or uncommon. Several initial solar power projects under India’s National Solar Mission were commissioned with debt funding from American banks, including the United States Export-Import Bank. All these projects used solar modules from American companies, mostly from First Solar.

By offering a line of credit to African countries, India would not only achieve its strategic goals but also open a new market for its ailing domestic solar module manufacturers.

Not long ago there were media reports that the Indian government would allow the Solar Energy Corporation of India to open offices in other countries with a goal to enable quicker and easier implementation of solar energy policy and infrastructure. SECI is responsible for formulation and implementation of solar as well as wind energy policies in India.



New York Taking The Lead On Community Solar

Should government be involved in commercial projects or should the private sector do all the heavy lifting itself? Maybe the answer is that public/private partnerships are society’s best way forward.

Private entities get to make a profit while government makes sure the needs of the community are met. Rooftop solar is great for those who have roofs that face the right way, are pitched at the proper angle, and aren’t shaded by trees or nearby buildings. But what of those who don’t have roofs that are suitable for solar power systems? For them, community solar may be the answer.


Community solar allows people who can’t have a rooftop solar system to participate in the clean energy revolution. Instead of having panels on the roof of a home, they own solar panels in a remote location. It’s like having rooftop solar except the wires connecting the system to your home are longer. A lot longer, actually.

All anyone needs to do is sign up to purchase (or lease) a certain number of solar panels in the project. There are no loans applications to fill out, no permitting process to go through, no installers tromping through your yard and climbing around on your roof. There’s no warranty or maintenance issues and, in most cases, you can move and take your clean renewable energy with you. The icing on the cake is that a portion of the electricity generated by those solar panels goes to reduce your monthly utility bill.

The state of New York has a clean energy goal of 50% renewable energy by 2030, supported in part by its NY-Sun Initiative, which has a budget of $1 billion and has boosted New York’s inventory of installed solar by a factor of 10 since 2011. A statement on its website says, “Everyone can get solar electric in New York State if we work together. Renters, homeowners, low-income residents, schools, and businesses can join together to set up shared solar electric systems. These shared resources result in expanded access to renewable energy and healthier, stronger communities for all. It is also referred to as community distributed generation (or community DG).”
New York has just announced its largest community solar project is now on line. The 2.7 megawatt facility in Sullivan County, west of New York City, has 9,800 solar panels and is owned by Delaware River Solar, which benefited from $1.3 million in funding from the sate of New York. “An investment in renewable energy is an investment in the future and sustainability of New York’s environment and the overall health of this state,” says New York governor Andrew Cuomo in a press release. “This Sullivan County project will deliver energy savings to residents throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley region while supporting the establishment of a cleaner, greener New York for all.”

Remember that part about public/private partnerships? To date, the investments made by the state of New York have leverage almost $3 billion in private investment, money that has gone into the local economy to create employment opportunities for New York residents. It has also helped reduce the state’s carbon footprint. The Sullivan County community solar installation is expected to keep 1,670 metric tons a year of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. How do you put a price on letting people live longer, healthier lives?

“It is important that we continue to seek ways to produce energy from as many sources as possible,” notes state senator Joseph Griffo, who is chairman of the Energy & Telecommunications Committee. “I am hopeful that this solar array will help us to increase our renewable energy generation while also providing consumers and businesses who choose to take part with a reduction to their energy costs.”

Community solar has many attributes, not the least of which is that the installation costs per panel are significantly less than they are for rooftop solar systems. They are a great way to encourage people to get involved with renewable energy while keeping installed costs per kilowatt-hour low. They also help blunt entrenched hostility toward rooftop solar by many in the utility industry who complain they can create solar power plants for far less money than private individuals can. Community solar can help bridge that divide.