Monday, August 30, 2010

Green Ray announce AC module

reenRay Inc., developers of the first safety certified AC Module, announced today that the company's SunSine™200 AC Module has completed its safety certification and is now listed by Intertek to the UL 1741 standard.

"We expect to have product available for delivery starting in October. This has been a long development path, and we owe thanks to many partners who helped us get this far, including the Department of Energy, the MA Clean Energy Center, and our investors, 21Ventures and The Quercus Trust."

The SunSine™200 has been certified by Intertek, making it the first ever certification for an AC module. Intertek performed the comprehensive safety and grid connectivity testing according to the UL 1741 standard; following the testing, the product received the ETL mark for the U.S. markets.

“Having this important certification allows GreenRay to shift its focus and now aggressively build our sales and partner channels and begin production of the SunSine™200 AC Module,” said Miles C. Russell, founder and CEO of GreenRay, Inc. “We expect to have product available for delivery starting in October. This has been a long development path, and we owe thanks to many partners who helped us get this far, including the Department of Energy, the MA Clean Energy Center, and our investors, 21Ventures and The Quercus Trust.”

The SunSine™200 AC Module is the world's first solar appliance. It is a fully-integrated Plug- and-Play PV system, and provides the market with a modular, scalable AC system solution for home and commercial solar installations.

In another industry first, the SunSine™200 AC Module comes with a 20-year warranty, including the integrated micro-inverter. GreenRay’s proprietary inverter is designed to match the useful life expectancy of PV modules by eliminating the weak components found in other inverters, such as electrolytic capacitors and opto-couplers.

GreenRay’s SunSine™200 AC Module Highlights:

Simpler

Plug-and-play solar appliance
½ the time to design and install
Safer for installers and firefighters
More Reliable

3x longer inverter life
Breakthrough 20-year warranty!
Robust, auto-grounding system design
More Powerful

Produces 5-25% more energy
Minimizes impact of shading
Convenient performance reporting

Monday, August 23, 2010

Canadian Market 3rd Largest in North America


Ontario -- Finally, it's official. Last year Ontario was the third largest market for solar photovoltaic (PV) installations in North America.
Ontario ranked fourth in total installed North American solar PV capacity with 48 MW.
The Canadian province pushed aside Florida with an installation of 46 MW of solar PV and was only behind New Jersey, 57 MW, and California with 212 MW according to a report by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). 

As a contractor to the US Government, IREC only reports on developments in the US. However, "If Ontario were a U.S. state, it would have ranked third on IREC's list of states," said the report.

The report, U.S. Solar Market Trends 2009, found that at the end of 2009 California had a total installed solar PV capacity of 768 MW, New Jersey, 128 MW, and Colorado, 59 MW.

Ontario ranked fourth in total installed North American solar PV capacity with 48 MW.

Outside of California, New Jersey is the second largest market for solar PV in the US. New Jersey's Clean Energy program estimates that, at the current pace, 125 MW will be installed by year end, bringing total installations to nearly 250 MW.

The Canadian Solar Industry Association (CanSIA) estimates 100 to 200 MW will be installed in Ontario this year. Nearly 100 MW has already been installed, and several large projects, multi-megawatt projects are underway, says CanSIA.

Ontario and New Jersey are neck and neck for the number two slot in the North American solar PV market for installations in 2010. New Jersey will likely retain its second place position in total capacity, at least for this year.

250 MW of solar PV in either New Jersey or Ontario by year end are capable of generating 250 million kWh per year in each region.

The Ontario policy driving development is a fixed-price model while New Jersey is using a quota model with tradable solar renewable energy credits determining how much is paid for solar generation.

IREC, the report's authors, concluded that 435 MW of solar PV were installed in the US in 2009, bringing total installed capacity to 1,250 MW. The residential market accounted for about one-third of US solar PV capacity in 2009. The utility market accounted for 16% capacity. There are now 104,000 solar PV installations in the US.

For comparison, Germany may install as much as 6,000 MW of solar PV this year, bringing total solar PV capacity to 15,000 MW. By the end of the year there may be as many as one million solar PV systems in the country or then times the number in North America.

In Germany, a generating fleet of 15,000 MW will produce about 15 TWh (15 billion kWh) per year or nearly 3% of Germany's electricity demand.

You can check out the full report from IREC here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Solar Power in Illinois


Chicago – In a move that will help spur the rapid adoption of solar energy in the state, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn yesterday signed a bill into law that will require utilities to procure .5% of the energy they sell from solar power sources by June 1, 2012. The date is 3 years sooner than the previous law, which gave utilities until 2015 to procure the same amount of solar energy. Now utilities will have to procure 1.5 percent by June 1, 2013; 3 percent by June 1, 2014; and 6 percent by June 1, 2015, and each year thereafter.
House Bill 6202, sponsored by Rep. William Burns (D-Chicago) and Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), amends both the Illinois Power Agency Act and the Public Utilities Act to change the date by which Commonwealth Edison and Ameren must begin purchasing solar energy as part of the renewable energy portfolio requirement.
A second bill that ensures the right of individual homeowners to add solar energy panels to their homes, provided they follow certain guidelines, was also signed into law.
Citing the job creation aspects of increasing renewable energy in the state, Governor Quinn signed both bills at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Play the video below to for more on the event.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

OPA microFIT Rate Changes


Ontario -- The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) revised the microFIT tariff in the province's groundbreaking feed-in tariff program on August 13, 2010, splitting the tariff into two tranches.
The microFIT tariff had applied for all solar photovoltaic (PV) projects less than 10 kW and paid $0.802 CAD/kWh for 20 years. OPA had originally proposed the tariff only for rooftop solar PV systems. However, the OPA expanded the definition to include groundmounted systems after stakeholder input in the spring of 2009. 
On July 2, 2010, OPA proposed breaking up the microFIT into two tranches, one for rooftop systems, and another for groundmounted systems. OPA had proposed cutting the groundmounted tariff to $0.588 CAD/kWh and making the cuts retroactive to thousands of applications that had not received contracts. 
After a furious reaction to the OPA proposal by farmers, installers, the solar industry and environmental groups, OPA issued a more modest revision of the microFIT tariff. 
OPA ruled that the new groundmounted microFIT would pay $0.642 CAD/kWh and would not be retroactive. All applications prior to the July 2nd announcement would receive the original tariff. Applications received after July 2nd would receive the new tariff. 
The MicroFIT revision brings to six the number of tranches for solar PV alone in Ontario's feed-in tariff program.
  • Rooftop <10 kW
  • Groundmounted <10 kW (2 July 2010)
  • Rooftop >10 kW<250 kW
  • Rooftop >250 kW<500 kW
  • Rooftop >500 kW
  • Groundmounted <10 MW

The Canadian Solar Industry Association (CanSIA) was relieved, saying they were "thrilled" by OPA's announcement. CanSIA lauded the willingness of OPA and the government to work collaboratively with the industry and other stakeholders to resolve the issue calmly.
OPA's announcement followed a 30-day consultation on its proposal. During this period, OPA revised its estimate of installation and operating costs for groundmounted tracking systems based on public input. The higher tariff was the result. 
There are no subsidies, tax credits, or other incentives in Ontario or in Canada for solar PV. 
OPA also responded to criticism that it had acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner by creating a microFIT program advisory panel to improve communications and increase transparency. 
In another provision, OPA ruled that commercial aggregators will no longer be allowed to participate in the microFIT program. OPA said that they intended to reserve micoFIT for its original purpose, helping homeowners, farmers, cooperatives, First Nations, small businesses, and public institutions to develop small renewable projects. 
Details of OPA's position, its economic assumptions, and calculations are posted to the OPA's micFIT web site at New Price Category Proposed for microFIT Ground-Mounted Solar PV Projects
OPA had received 16,000 applications for micoFIT or the equivalent of 160 MW if all applicants used all 10 kW permitted. 
CanSIA Expects Record Year
CanSIA is now expecting new solar PV installations in Ontario to reach between 100 to 200 MW this year. Nearly 100 MW has already been installed in 2010 and more projects are underway. 
Such a pace would put Ontario second behind California in North American solar PV installations for 2010, surpassing New Jersey and Colorado by wide margins. It is possible that by year end 2010 Ontario will have more total installed solar PV capacity than any other jurisdiction in North America except California. 
California has about four times the population of Ontario and has been developing solar PV for more than a decade. Ontario is a relative newcomer to solar PV. Having begun its Standard Offer Contract program in 2006, Ontario had a total solar PV capacity of less than 2 MW by the end of 2008.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Our Energy Challenge

Our Energy Challenge, In Cubic Miles Of Oil
Curtis R. Carlson and Ripudaman Malhotra 08.10.10, 6:00 AM ET

A comprehensive national energy policy will acknowledge the magnitude of the world's energy challenges. Most citizens want to be assured of economic prosperity, national security and a clean environment. In much of the world, accomplishing these goals is impossible, but in America all three can be achieved.
Since the 1950s, energy demand in the U.S. has been increasing while our domestic supply is rapidly decreasing. Sending $300 billion a year to other countries to obtain 60% of our oil, much of it from unreliable regions of the world, is not an intelligent policy. To suggest that energy independence can be achieved quickly and easily using renewable alternatives is equally unreasonable.
Developing a practical energy policy starts by understanding the scale of the problem. Currently we have no clear way to talk about this challenge. Units such as terawatts, joules and BTUs mean little to our policymakers and citizens, adding confusion to an already difficult topic. To help address this issue, our late colleague Hewitt Crane coined the term a "cubic mile of oil."
The approximately 25 billion barrels of oil the world consumes each year amounts to one cubic mile of oil (CMO). We can use the energy contained in a cubic mile of oil as a unit to visually represent energy from all different sources: coal, natural gas, biomass, nuclear, hydro, solar, wind and geothermal. Expressing global energy usage in CMO units allows us to more easily debate and evaluate our progress. It is a big unit. Imagine all of Washington, D.C., submerged under 80 feet of oil. At today's prices, one cubic mile of oil costs about $2 trillion.
Each year the world uses 3 CMO of energy: 1 CMO of oil, 0.8 of coal, 0.6 of natural gas and about 0.2 each of wood, hydro and nuclear. At 0.01 CMO per year, wind and solar combined barely register. Even with very aggressive conservation and efficiency gains, the world's energy use will approach 6 CMO per year in 50 years--twice what we consume today.
What would it take to replace just the world's coal use with non-carbon sources? We would need to build each year for 50 years either 32 new 1,000-megawatt nuclear plants, 31,000 new 3-megawatt windmills, or 28 million new 5-kilowatt photovoltaic homes. These numbers assume realistic availability from wind and solar systems plus the ability to store and transmit their intermittent power, which we cannot fully do today. These numbers indicate why even the most optimistic Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenarios call for nearly 60% of the world's energy to be provided by hydrocarbons in the year 2050.
How about a more modest goal--replacing America's coal-fired plants in 10 years? These plants produce about 0.13 CMO of electricity per year. Replacing them would take 280 nuclear plants, 250,000 windmills or 245 million photovoltaic homes. Are we doing anything of this scale today? No. Some the combination of these alternatives is conceptually possible--but not within 10 years.
A new nuclear plant costs many billions of dollars, and replacing all of America's coal-fired plants with nuclear plants would cost roughly a trillion dollars. Producing electricity today from nuclear is three times--and solar thermal four times--more expensive than coal. That is why China is building a new coal-fired plant every week, with India close behind. However, even these aggressive developments will not satisfy the energy needs of these rapidly growing countries.

Eventually the world will move to cleaner alternatives, but it will take many decades. Oil will remain essential for many products and particularly for transportation, which is 70% of U.S. oil use. Until we have practical, cost-effective electric or hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, transportation usage will not change significantly. When we do have acceptable alternatives, it will take decades to create the required infrastructure and to replace today's vehicles.
The U.S. has plentiful sources of energy; we have simply decided not to use most of them for technical, environmental and political reasons. This de facto policy has hurt our economy, damaged the environment and reduced our national security. We have enough coal resources for the next 200 years, potentially more oil than Saudi Arabia in shale oil, and possibly natural gas in excess of 100 years in shale gas. We have great potential for solar, wind and nuclear energy, and in the future we will also have a new generation of bio-fuels and geo-thermal power.
Cubic Mile of Oil math illustrates the vast scale of our challenge, which no single approach can fully address. We need a national energy plan that uses all of our energy alternatives, along with a comprehensive innovation plan to create the low-cost energy our economy requires and that reduces our risks to national security and the environment. A realistic energy plan will include initiatives for conservation and efficiency; aggressive development and deployment of renewables; increased oil recovery from existing reservoirs; development of new coal, oil, gas and nuclear resources; and development of nontraditional energy resources, such as shale oil and gas.
While we do not yet have all the innovations needed to provide the clean, low-cost and enormous scale of energy resources required, we can develop them over time. To make expeditious progress, the government must make sustained research investments, create realistic energy regulations and provide appropriate commercialization incentives, without picking technological favorites. Although it will take great persistence and the investments required are huge, over a 50-year period our goals are achievable. Our nation requires and deserves such a plan.

Module Prices Decline


Keeping Pace with Cost Reduction as Module Prices Continue to Decline

by Alessandro Fujisaka, Silicon Genesis, San Jose, CA USA
Published: August 12, 2010
The solar industry is expected to continue enjoying strong growth but based on declining prices. Over the past year, a combination of the global recession, breakdown of the financial markets, and Spain's cut in incentives contributed to the weak demand in the photovoltaic industry, increasing the inventory and pushing down the module ASP by ~50% from 3Q08.
Despite silicon cost reductions, most of the c-Si module manufacturers will suffer margin compression as they compete with thin-film.
These lower module prices demand companies to revamp their production techniques to keep pace with the price erosion and ASP will again be the most important driver for the industry in 2010. Falling silicon prices have helped lower the crystalline silicon cell cost, but the wafer substrate remains the major contributor to the overall cost. Silicon Genesis has developed an approach to cleave wafers or foils down to 20μm using less than 2g/wafer with no kerf loss providing the technical and financial ability to keep up with the manufacturing cost pressure. The approach is an evolutionary step to thinner wafers – in the 150μm to 100μm range – serving the market for the next 3-5 years, as well as a disruptive step enabling ultra-thin wafers below 100μm, and down to 20μm foils with a longer market impact, perhaps for the next 3-15 years.

c-Si module cost analysis

Crystalline silicon module ASPs have dropped significantly with the reduced poly cost has dropped to as low as $1.60/Wp at “best practice.” Advances in wafering have also contributed to lower manufacturing costs. By analyzing the c-Si Solar PV module ASP and cost dynamics [1], with current poly cost in Q2’10 at $58/kg, and more efficient usage of silicon at 6.5g/Wp, the silicon material cost still contributes $0.38/Wp. The module cost can help forecast the module ASP, especially as the industry adopts more normal price and cost down curves. With the silicon price expected to be <$50/kg by the end of 2010, the price is predicted to fall to $1.42/Wp exiting 2010. The total module cost, margin and ASP are represented in Fig. 1.
Figure 1. c-Si solar PV module ASP and cost dynamics.

Wafering cost reduction

In the wafering segment, the primary strategy is to minimize the costs by cutting thinner wafers at high yields while reducing the silicon lost during processing. Silicon Genesis’ kerf-free technology is a process that will virtually eliminate all waste when cutting materials needed to implement solar technology.
By comparison, in Fig. 1, the potential module ASP achieved using the new technology, at 150μm and 50μm, respectively, with the same gross margin points, can be seen. With today’s silicon cost at $58/kg, the reduced manufacturing cost could lead to a 36% reduction in module ASP. The Deutsche Bank analysis published in February 2010 indicates that at the low cost of silicon, the forecasted module ASP could reach $1.10/Wp. Using the same analysis, if adding the potential using kerf-free wafers, it could achieve a module ASP of $0.75/Wp comparable to some thin-film technologies. With this c-Si module cost and consequently price at these low levels, the focus shifts again to conversion efficiency and downstream. The improved conversion efficiency using crystalline silicon leads to lower and simpler balance of systems.
The BOS costs will become an increasingly larger portion of the total solar PV system cost. The reason is that a portion of the BOS costs are area-related and not efficiency-related. The potential cost reduction on area-related is much less substantial than the time used to install/build a PV system, which is heavily related to area usage. The result is that the efficiency (electrical conversion per area used) becomes the predominant cost of electricity production. About 5-7% cost reduction is achieved per point of CE improvement [2]. The BOS cost savings with CE is illustrated in Fig. 2.
Figure 2. BOS cost savings with CE. SOURCE: Solar Vision Consulting
Kerf-free technology enables crystalline silicon to achieve thin-film technology costs while keeping the high conversion efficiency. The high CE gives lower BOS costs, lower area related costs (land costs, grading, etc.), reduced shipping costs, and reduced balance of plant (BOP), i.e., plant operation and maintenance.
Mono-crystalline wafers, which have the highest probability of achieving above 17%-18% average, will become a more competitive choice moving forward.
Another aspect of the new technology is the wafer quality that results from the precise ion beam implant technique. The process reduces or eliminates micro-cracks, which is one of the main causes of breakage in the cell; micro cracks also lead to broken wafers. Current cell production lines incorporate equipment for testing micro-cracks, which adds cost and complexity; with no full assurance of defect capture. Therefore, cell yield could potentially be improved with the new kerf-free material. The characterization of these ultra-thin wafers have demonstrated the enhanced properties inherent to this process and outlined in Table 1.
The cost/Watt advantages achieved by the new process will allow crystalline silicon to better withstand the competitive market pressures of other emerging technologies and will provide the basis for taking leadership positions in the PV industry as a result of lower manufacturing costs, higher material quality and greater conversion efficiencies.

Conclusion

Thin-film module prices are expected to experience a more moderate decline than c-Si module prices. Although the gap will narrow, the thin-film module cost and ASP will not be effectively challenged by c-Si modules unless a more aggressive approach is taken. Despite the silicon cost reductions, most of the c-Si module manufacturers will suffer margin compression as they compete with thin-film. High efficiency and lower costs are realized by the SiGen PolyMax technology, thereby offering a competitive and sustainable approach to challenge and surpass thin-film modules on cost and price.