Here’s a challenge for you – spot the odd one out from the following list of 2014 FIFA world cup sponsors: McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Castrol, Budweiser, Adidas, Visa, Sony and Yingli.
Events in Ukraine highlight how easily apparently safe solar investments can suddenly look very precarious. As PV expands its global reach, managing political risk will become an increasing concern, says Ben Willis.
As Russia strengthens its grip on Crimea, the fate of PV power plants in the region and in wider Ukraine is in limbo. Lucy Woods reports.
Former US president Bill Clinton led a rally of high profile calls for a rethinking of renewable energy investment at a clean-tech conference in Germany last week. Lucy Woods heard what he had to say.
In her final blog for PV Tech, Felicity Carus reflects on the changes she has seen in her time as an observer of the US solar market. Although huge challenges remain, the industry is in great health, she writes.
Despite a lack of spending on new product development 2013 still turned out some interesting new entrants from new tools for factories to new modules and inverters. We run through the top ten products by page views that caught the eye of PV Tech readers in 2013.
Looking back over 2013, it’s clear the year was a transitional one. A key takeaway has been the recovery in end-market demand that has restored manufacturing utilisation rates to almost 100% for tier one PV module manufacturers and the opportunity for many but not all PV module manufacturers to return to operating profits in the second half of the year.
Here in the UK the festive season also means panto season, so how would the last 12 months in the solar industry play out in the classic, over the top, slapstick theatre styling of pantomime and who would be the villain of the piece?
While 2012 was arguably the year the solar mega project entered the public consciousness, with what are (for now) some of the world’s largest PV plants reaching completion, 2013 has seen its fair share of solar behemoths too. We profile the biggest projects of 2013 from the world’s biggest markets.
Concentrated solar power has had a difficult year in the US, with several high-profile projects being turned down or shelved. But as Felicity Carus reports, it’s a technology that still has some distance to run.
Trade disputes with the Chinese are still rumbling on in the US and Europe. As Felicity Carus reports, although efforts are still ongoing to find a settlement, the only winners so far have been Taiwanese cell manufacturers.
The search is on for the next source of solar finance once the Investment Tax Credit winds, and some elaborate ideas are on the table. Just don’t mention sub-prime mortgages, says Felicity Carus.
Although much of the focus of debate in the US has been around residential and commercial solar, utility-scale projects represent the largest segment in America’s PV market. But as Felicity Carus, the days of the PV ‘mega’ project could be numbered.
Neither commercial-scale nor energy storage have yet take off in the US. But as Felicity Carus reports, this could be about change as companies eye opportunities in both segments.
Solar deployment in Canada has so far largely been restricted to its biggest economy, Ontario. But as Felicity Carus reports, other provinces are now beginning to consider the technology, even Alberta, home to the controversial tar sands.
SunEdison is racing to build significant scale to its PV power plant project business, while SolarCity has just successfully added a new financial business model to its bow.
With the spotlight frequently shining on residential and utility-scale solar in the US, the commercial and industrial segments are often left in the dark. Felicity Carus reports on how they could shortly have their moment in the limelight.
Investor-owned utility companies are often seen as the enemies of the US’s booming residential solar industry. But as Felicity Carus reports they are also emerging as solar providers themselves, with plenty more scope for their role to grow.
Some lighter moments at SPI 2013 in Chicago yesterday masked the serious trade and policy issues dominating the US solar scene. But at least the mood was lightened by a buoyant mood among the investor contingent, writes Felicity Carus from Chicago.
Day two of Solar Power International saw varying predictions of the big opportunities for solar. Reporting from the event, Felicity Carus discovers where the hidden growth markets of the US are and hears how energy storage could be key to attracting solar finance.
Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emmanuel yesterday fired the starting gun on Solar Power International 2013. Felicity Carus reports on the event’s opening day, which saw a call to arms to the US solar industry.
Solexant chief executive Brad Mattson’s forthcoming book seeks to chart the way ahead for the development of PV technology. He’d better publish it quickly, or it’s likely to be out of date even before it hits the shelves, says Felicity Carus.
Glasspoint and Alion are not quite disruptive technologies, but in some markets, they might just be in the right place at the right time.
The long-awaited report on net metering by the California Public Utilities Commission apparently sided with utility companies that claim the system unfairly discriminates against non solar users. But as Felicity Carus reports, the commission overlooks come inconvenient truths that will make the economics of solar hard to ignore.
Although the solar market in the US has reached 10GW, size has not led to a consistent decrease in prices for consumers, even in leading state California. Felicity Carus looks at the drivers behind America’s patchwork PV market.
The cost of solar still has a long way to fall in the US before being comparable with the likes of Germany. We’ll know we’re there when people pay as little attention to who made their PV panel as their toaster, says Felicity Carus.
Silicon Valley’s Palo Alto, home to the semi-conductor industry, practises what it preaches by being a big solar user. Felicity Carus looks at the drivers for PV adoption in the city.
Discussion in the US solar world is dominated by what happens when the Investment Tax Credit is wound down. But as Felicity Carus writes, even more pressing is what the solar landscape will look like when state Renewable Portfolio Standards have expired.
Arnold Schwarzenegger may have retired to Hollywood, but the actor-turned-governor still pushes his image as a climate hero and clean energy champion, says Felicity Carus.
Net energy metering for solar users has become the focal point of a fierce battle in the US, with utility companies seeking to undermine it. But the policy need not be at odds with utilities’ objectives, argues Felicity Carus.
As reported, Mike Splinter, Chairman and CEO of Applied Materials (AMAT), is stepping down from the day-to-day running of the company, being replaced by Applied’s current President and former head of Varian Semiconductor, Gary Dickerson.
Solar start-ups have struggled to raise capital and maintain credibility in recent years, thin-film companies in particular. Solar’s popularity on Sandhill Road has dropped dramatically.
Third party ownership is the dominant business model underpinning residential solar in many parts of the US. But with the Investment Tax Credit decrease looming, Felicity Carus asks for how long this will remain the case.
Solar is under attack in Arizona and is now the subject of a TV advertisement claiming it wastes ratepayers’ money. Felicity Carus reports on the fierce debate raging over who is behind Arizona’s assault on solar.
As with many big sporting occasions, all sorts of claims are being made about the environmental credentials of next year’s football World Cup in Brazil. But with solar installations set to play a central role in many of the event venues, Andy Colthorpe asks if it could put solar squarely on the map for this PV giant-in-waiting.
Last month US president Barack Obama launched a multi-billion initiative to bring power to the African people. But with little of this money so far directed towards developing solar capacity in a continent ideally suited to it, Felicity Carus asks whether the money is being wisely spent.
Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld America, accuses the Chinese government of bullying the US and European solar industry but is called to defend his company’s actions.
Despite a long list of thin-film company failures and retrenchments over the last few years, several start-ups continue to tout their technology offerings ahead of actual commercialisation.
US$1.73 billion poured into project funds for third party lease companies such as SolarCity, Sunrun and SolarReserve in the last quarter, but for most developers, project finance is still hard work.
First of all, congratulations to ReneSola for being included in Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) tiering system for PV module makers – joining the often used “Tier 1” category.
Although California is the undisputed leader among US states when it comes to solar deployment, the policies it will need to maintain this position are hotly contested. Felicity Carus reports from day two of Intersolar North America, where the Golden State’s solar future was top of the agenda.
California governor Jerry Brown got Intersolar North America off to a rousing start in San Francisco yesterday. Reporting from the event, Felicity Carus says recent hard times for solar in the US are not overshadowing a new mood of optimism for the industry.
The latest legislative period in the US has seen patchy progress in the advancement of political support for solar energy. Felicity Carus looks at which states have been the biggest supporters of solar in 2012-13.
Independently gauging visitor levels at any major event simply isn’t possible, so many will rely on the number of booths on a year to-year basis to measure a trade show’s growing or diminishing popularity.
Massachusetts’ solar programme has been massively oversubscribed. Felicity Carus reports on how emergency measures to extend the programme have benefited the state.
As the debate over solar net metering rages on in the US, focus is now shifting to the benefits offered by community solar programmes. While some utilities have embraced the concept, others are yet to be convinced, says Felicity Carus.
The permitting process for solar projects in the US is notoriously complicated. Felicity Carus looks at ways it can be improved for the good of the industry.
Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly popular tool in the US for raising capital for solar installations. Felicity Carus asks what all the hype is about.
Electricity legislation introduced in the US in the 1970s has untapped potential for encouraging renewables, says Felicity Carus.
Mexico has all the right conditions for a solar boom. Felicity Carus investigates what it will take to turn promise into reality.