House Members Ask for More Scrutiny of Solar Leases

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

More than a dozen members of the House of Representatives have asked two federal agencies to look into claims that solar leases are being oversold to consumers, according to published reports.

Solar Thermal Is Really, Really Dead

Posted on February 01,2015 by user-756436 in photovoltaic

Back in early 2012, in an article called “Solar Thermal Is Dead,” I announced that “it’s now cheaper to heat water with a photovoltaic array than solar thermal collectors.” Now that almost three years have passed, it’s worth revisiting the topic. In the years since that article was written, the cost to install a photovoltaic (PV) system has dropped significantly. Moreover, I’ve come across monitoring data that allow for a more accurate estimate of the amount of electricity needed to heat water with electric resistance elements or a heat pump.

New Tariffs on Chinese Solar Panels

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in China

The U.S. Commerce Department has imposed new import duties on photovoltaic panels from China and Taiwan, closing a loophole in an earlier ruling and giving U.S. manufacturers a little breathing room.

‘Plug-and-Play’ Solar is Closer to Market

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

Although it won't be commercially available for a couple of years, a photovoltaic system under development by a Boston-based research laboratory could be installed by a homeowner and connected to the grid in about a day.

Report Grades States on Energy Policy

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in Freeing the Grid

An annual survey that gauges renewable energy policies around the country shows that in the past year states have generally made it easier for homeowners to produce their own power with small-scale photovoltaic and wind systems. The report, called "Freeing the Grid," grades U.S. states in two key policy areas — net metering and interconnection, which is the procedure customers must follow to connect their renewable energy systems to the grid. The survey is produced by Vote Solar and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.

Solar Electricity Growing More Competitive

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in distributed generation

If the current federal tax credit for solar equipment remains intact, electricity generated by photovoltaic (PV) panels will cost no more than electricity provided by local utilities in 47 U.S. states by 2016, according to a report from Deutsche Bank. Even if the tax credit drops from its current level of 30 percent to 10 percent at the end of 2016, the cost of solar electricity would reach this milestone (called "grid parity") in 36 states, bank analyst Vishal Shah wrote in the October 26 report.

Veterans Will Get Training as Solar Installers

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

Beginning this fall, some veterans who are leaving active military duty will be able to get training at one or more military bases to become solar installers, the White House said. The effort is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Instruction Training Network, which hopes to train 50,000 installers of photovoltaic (PV) systems by 2020.

A Fight Ahead For Solar Equipment Tax Credits

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in federal investment tax credit. Solar Energy Industries Association

The president of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is promising to fight for the continuation of a 30 percent federal income tax credit (ITC) for solar equipment beyond its scheduled expiration at the end of 2016. Speaking to the opening session of the Solar Power International trade show in Las Vegas on October 20, SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch said the SEIA would lead the "Extend the ITC" campaign to keep the tax credit at its current level.

Big Companies Offer Employees a Solar Bargain

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

More than 100,000 employees of several large corporations will get the chance to buy or lease photovoltaic (PV) systems for their homes at discount prices, thanks to a group-buying plan hatched by the World Wildlife Fund.

A New Ground-Mounted Solar Array

Posted on February 01,2015 by user-756436 in photovoltaic

I’ve lived in an off-grid house for the past 39 years. Since I make my own electricity, my electricity costs are much higher than those of most Americans. Because of my off-grid lifestyle, I often lack perspective when I try to help people who ask questions about ordinary energy choices. (I’ve had to compensate for my lack of relevant experience by undertaking anthropological studies of my grid-connected neighbors.)

Solar Energy Costs Fall in 2013

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in distributed generation

Prices for photovoltaic (PV) systems fell by between 12% and 19% last year, and should drop another 3% to 12% this year, a joint report from two national laboratories says. The trend toward lower prices is keeping the country on track to meeting the targets of the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot initiative, the report said, which forecasts a price reduction of 75% in the cost of solar-generated electricity between 2010 and 2020, to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Report Says Walmart Owners Undercut Solar Growth

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

The family that owns Walmart, the country's biggest retailer, has spent millions of dollars to slow the growth of residential photovoltaic (PV) systems while making public claims about its commitment to sustainability, a non-profit research organization said in a report published this month.

In San Francisco, a Solar Array on Every Roof

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

The president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors says that he will propose a resolution requiring all new buildings in the city, both residential and commercial, to include rooftop photovoltaic (PV) arrays where feasible, reports.

Wisconsin Utility Seeks New Fee for Renewables

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

A Wisconsin utility is seeking regulatory approval for a revised rate structure that adds new fees for customers who generate some of their own power with wind, solar, and other renewable energy systems, and cuts the amount of money they are paid for excess electricity through net-metering. We Energies' proposal would hike the fixed service charge (what it calls a "facilities charge") for all residential electric customers from $9 to $16 per month.

Austin, Texas, Will Boost Solar Output

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in Austin

The Austin, Texas, city council has passed a resolution that requires a total of 800 megawatts in new photovoltaic (PV) within six years, a move that would make Texas one of the top 10 solar electricity producers in the country, Greentech Media reports.

Vermont Utility to Develop New Grid Technology

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in battery storage

The largest electric utility in Vermont has announced its intent to offer a variety of new products and services to its customers and develop a network of micro-grids through the state that offer more reliable service than the existing "legacy grid system." Beginning in the city of Rutland next year, Green Mountain Power said it would partner with NRG Energy to develop an advanced distribution grid that could serve as a model for expansion to other parts of the state later. The utility has some 265,000 residential and business customers in Vermont.

Solar Gets A Big Boost in Hawaii

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in Hawaii

Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) has announced a plan to triple the number of solar electric panels in the state by 2030 and take a variety of other steps that would lower power bills for state residents by 20%. Utility Dive reported the move would increase the proportion of renewable energy from its current level of 18% to 65%, the highest in the United States.

Bank Predicts Shift in European Power Picture

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in distributed generation

The world's largest bank is advising investors and clients that innovations in photovoltaic (PV) technology and rapidly falling costs for batteries and PV equipment will eventually make large, centralized power generating stations in Europe obsolete. UBS bank, based in Zurich, earlier this month produced a lengthy briefing paper that predicts that an investment in a combined electric vehicle / PV installation / battery system would pay for itself in as little as 6 to 8 years by 2020, without any subsidies.

PV Cost Reaches Grid Parity in 11 States

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in grid parity

For people in 11 states and the District of Columbia, electricity produced by photovoltaic (PV) arrays costs no more than electricity purchased from a local utility, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Mike Jacobs, the UCS's senior energy analyst, writes in a blog posted August 20, that more than half the states in the country could reach what's called "grid parity" by 2017.

Solar Industry Sees Potential PV Panel Shortage

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

The global photovoltaic (PV) panel industry is facing the first shortage of panels in eight years as installations continue to pick up, according to a report in BusinessWeek. The article said the industry could install as much as 52 gigawatts of solar panels this year and another 61 gigawatts next year. That would be more than seven times the capacity of the PV equipment installed just five years ago, and substantially above the 40 gigawatts installed last year.

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