In a 24 hour whirlwind trip to Switzerland, I visited the headquarters of technology start-up firm SwissINSO, where I was able to see first hand the development of a new technology that is set to bring more colour to the PV market, specifically the BIPV and solar thermal sector.
Third party leasing has become the dominant model for financing residential solar in the US. But as new sources of capital emerge and consumer confidence grows, Felicity Carus asks for how much longer this will remain the case.
With the tectonic plates shifting in the global solar market, Felicity Carus tracks some of the trends that will emerge as the industry comes out of its period of consolidation.
Futurist and Google collaborator Ray Kurzweil has predicted a world entirely powered by solar. Having heard him speak earlier this month, Felicity Carus wonders whether he could be right.
The California Solar Initiative has been a runaway success, driving over 1.5GW of installations, but its days are now numbered. In the search for ways to keep the momentum going, community solar is emerging as a hot contender says Felicity Carus.
BrightSource’s cancellation of the 500MW Hidden Hills project announced last week demonstrates that the concentrating solar power (CSP) industry is under mounting pressure, if you pardon the steam generation pun.
A report on the costs of renewable energy contracts in California paint a positive picture for technologies such as solar. This and further evidence of a maturing market should be used by policymakers to justify a broader roll-out of renewables says Felicity Carus.
America’s key policy for boosting renewable energy is coming under sustained attack from fossil fuel lobbyists. But with their economic importance in the ascendency, industries such as a solar are fighting back, says Felicity Carus.
Falling shale gas prices in the US have prompted some to question how long the gas bonanza will last. When the bubble bursts, solar will be well placed to fill the void says Felicity Carus.
President Obama’s nominee for the next US Energy Secretary is a solar advocate but pragmatic on the need for medium-term solutions including gas and nuclear. Felicity Carus profiles Ernest Moniz.
Hurricane Sandy exposed the fragility of the US power grid. It also revealed a potentially vital new role for PV in future emergency events, says Felicity Carus.
Feed-in tariffs (FiTs) have been popular all over the world and have transformed some solar markets. But the US has remained stubbornly resistant to the power of transformational policy, with utilities treating them with the same hostility as net energy metering.
America’s leading distributed solar companies may be vying for market supremacy, but they all agree that the old utility model of electricity supply looks out of date. Felicity Carus hears what they have to say.
The US solar market is poised for huge growth. But the industry should not underestimate the many risks involved, says Felicity Carus.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lord Stern are an unlikely pairing. But they are united in their belief that technologies such as solar offer a glimmer of hope in averting climate catastrophe, says Ben Willis.
Bids for the first tranche of manufacturing equipment at CdTe thin-film leader, First Solar’s shuttered lines in Germany close today.
Net energy metering for solar in California is an ongoing source of controversy. Expect the flames to spread in 2013, says Felicity Carus.
California’s Governor Jerry Brown has already done much to advance the use of solar energy. Can the Golden State maintain its position as a renewable energy leader during his latest term, wonders Felicity Carus.
In his second term inauguration speech, Barack Obama made a personal commitment to tackling climate change. Creating a level playing field for renewables should be a priority for the President if he is to live up to his rhetoric, says Felicity Carus.
In the past two years, diminishing quality has become a real concern for PV manufacturers. It is time for the industry to halt its race to the bottom, says Felicity Carus.
Yingli Green has surpassed Suntech to become the world’s largest PV company. What is the secret of its success, asks Mark Osborne.
2012 can hardly be described as a banner year for solar. But is 2013 likely to be any better, asks Felicity Carus.
The financial community and media have got themselves excited by Warren Buffett’s purchase of two California solar projects. The move is good news for the industry, but not in the way people immediately think, says Mark Osborne.
SolarCity’s IPO earlier this year looks like a ray of light amid some pretty cloudy weather in 2012. The solar shakeout continues to gobble up companies like a collapsing sun. The peak in consolidation IHS researchers say will come from 2013 can’t come soon enough for many in the industry.
With his victory in the presidential race, Barack Obama has temporarily silenced critics of his green energy policies. But attacks are now coming from new directions, says Felicity Carus.
A host of recent independent testing programmes are starting to make Silicon Valley start-up Silveo look like a player rather than a wannabe.
Two important reports - one released last month and the other to be released imminently - are really giving the US solar industry something to think about as 2013 approaches.
The Cambridge University Eco Racing team (CUER) has unveiled designs for its latest solar powered racing car. Codenamed ‘Daphne’, the prototype is being developed to take part – and with any luck win – the 2013 World Solar Challenge, an arduous 3,000km road race from north to south Australia in cars powered by the sun.
The US solar employment growth rate exceeds the national average, but the politicians are not talking about it.
The California Solar Initiative is seen by many as a barometer of what is happening in the industry in the state.
The time has come for the US to stop treating solar as a political football.
Four years ago, on the morning after election day in the US, I sat thousands of miles away from my home in California, in the London offices of PV-Tech. I was basking in the glory of what, at the time, The Guardian newspaper called “the day America became cool again”. Barack Obama had been elected as the next President of the United States, and for the first time in nearly a decade American’s truly believed in the hope and change that our president-elect had promised in his campaign.
2012 is likely to be a banner year for installations in the United States, with an estimated 3.2GW to be added by the end of the year to the cumulative capacity of 4GW. By the end of 2016, that figure is predicted to grow to 32GW according to GTM Research.
As the inhabitants of East Coast America get to grips with the mess left by Hurricane Sandy, debate has inevitably been raging over whether the storm was the latest sign of a rapidly changing climate.
In the Eddie Murphy film Coming to America, the protagonist prince quickly realises that the USA is not a place where guests come to sit on their hands when he lands himself a job at a McDonald’s lookalike fast food joint on his quest to find a wife.
With the US presidential election less than two weeks away, energy subsidies have been a regular blip on the radar during the televised campaign debates.
Business transactions are very often about relationships — the solar industry is no exception. But have plunging prices of PV thrust upon the nascent global market by the Chinese really spoilt the industry with too much choice? Has the young bachelor industry been too busy speed dating with $0.65/Wp panels at the expense of a stable and more meaningful relationship between investor, developer and consumer expectations of a quality product that is going to stand the test of time?
Soon it will be as easy to go solar in California as it is to buy a lunch-time burrito, according to some in the industry.
The media frenzy over the precarious financial situation of one of Japan’s iconic corporate brands and a major PV module producer, Sharp Corporation has raged all week as an expected financial bailout led by Mizuho Financial Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group loomed. On Thursday, September 27, Sharp issued a short statement confirming it had secured both immediate and near-term funding amounting to around US$4.6 billion.
Speculators and rip-off merchants, modern-day snake oil peddlers backed by Wall Street banksters… that’s how the solar industry’s businesses were characterized in an LA Times piece last week clearly written to ruffle a few feathers.
Hurricane Isaac dampened Republican spirits by delaying the start of their National Convention in Tampa, Florida, last month. But the tropical storm broke in plenty of time for delegates to arrive 78 miles east in Orlando at another conference where faith-based optimism was also mixed with political pessimism.
September rolls around again and so another National Football League opens. Last week, defending champions, the New York Giants, took on the Dallas Cowboys for the kick off at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The hosts lost 24-17. But as fans kept score from the bleachers, the opening game of the season marked a critical victory for a traditional power generation company with ambitions to shape the 21st century energy industry.
Mitt Romney’s joke last week mocking Barack Obama’s acceptance of global warming has been ridiculed by US news networks, with perhaps the exception of Fox.
Elon Musk has almost single-handedly driven advances in electric vehicles in the US with his company Tesla Motors. I’ll go out on a limb and say that without Tesla, Ford and GM wouldn’t have paid too much attention to electric vehicles. But the denizens of Detroit got wind of the auto-upstart. Tesla has not yet balanced the books since its extremely successful public offering in 2010, but its stock trades are around three times that of Ford and well above GM.
Feed-in-tariffs are a controversial subject in the US where the energy industry likes to pretend that free market economics applies to this sector. You might expect clean energy antagonists to baulk: “Let the government set the price for electricity — are you crazy? Let the market decide.”
A mini-media storm is blowing over Japanese newspaper reports that Sharp Corporation is in talks to sell its state-of-the-art manufacturing complex in Sakai, Japan. Tucked into a little corner of the massive site is Sharp’s silicon thin-film manufacturing plant. The majority of the site is dedicated to LCD TV production but it also houses glass manufacturing and a host of ancillary operations that provide low cost operations.
Taxes and religion are not ordinarily good mixers. But that combination could bring solar closer to God.
Florida is a state blessed with lush everglades, orange groves, an average of seven hours of sunshine even in winter and zero income tax. But while it might be a magnet for retirees and sunseekers, when it comes to solar, Florida is far from policy paradise.
A 100lb punch bag, sandbags and a ball bearing the size of your fist are not necessarily what you would associate with state-of-the-art testing for solar panels. But at UL’s solar laboratories in San Jose, California, these experiments that look like they were cooked up in an eccentric inventor’s garden shed, put panels of all flavours through their paces on safety testing before they reach the US market.
As US President Barack Obama embarked on what could be his final year in office, he pledged in his State of the Union address to increase energy standards. Amid cries from political activists accusing him of having the least active climate change legislation in recent years, on Tuesday, a partnership between the Department of Interior and the Department of Energy intends to put all the vehement concerns to rest.