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Author Topic: Photvoltaics (PV)  (Read 7429 times)

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AGelbert

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Re: Photvoltaics (PV)
« Reply #165 on: May 06, 2016, 11:33:14 pm »
Energy Department Announces $25 Million to Accelerate Integration of Solar Energy into Nation’s Electrical Grid

May 2, 2016 - 5:19pm

News Media Contact •202-586-4940 •DOENews@hq.doe.gov

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As part of the Energy Department’s ongoing efforts to modernize the nation’s grid through the Grid Modernization Initiative, the Energy Department today announced $25 million in available funding through an effort called Enabling Extreme Real-Time Grid Integration of Solar Energy (ENERGISE) to help software developers, solar companies, and utilities accelerate the integration of solar energy into the grid.

Since President Obama took office, the amount of solar power installed in the U.S. has increased 23-fold—from 1.2 gigawatts in 2008 to an estimated 27.4 gigawatts in 2015, with one million systems now in operation. One of the key challenges to further solar deployment is the ability to integrate distributed generation sources like rooftop solar panels into the grid while balancing that generation with traditional utility generation to keep reliable and cost-effective power flowing to homes and businesses. Today’s funding opportunity announcement will help support companies working to meet that challenge. 

ENERGISE specifically seeks to develop software and hardware platforms for utility distribution system planning and operations that integrate sensing, communication, and data analytics. These hardware and software solutions will help utilities manage solar and other distributed energy resources on the grid and will be data-driven, easily scaled-up from prototypes, and capable of real-time monitoring and control.

“Our ongoing grid modernization work will help accelerate the widespread adoption of the clean energy resources that will define our low-carbon future. This funding will help that mission by supporting industry partners working to integrate, store, and deploy solar energy throughout our electric grid,” said Lynn Orr, Energy Department Under Secretary for Science and Energy. “In doing so, we hope to drive down costs and encourage even more American homeowners and businesses to install solar systems.”

Through industry and utility partnerships, the expected 10-15 solutions developed with this new funding will be field-tested by utilities to demonstrate their performance and value in real-world operating environments. These live demonstrations and research findings will provide valuable new tools for utilities and grid operators across the nation.

This funding program builds upon current and past research in systems integration technologies that support the widespread deployment of solar energy while maintaining the reliability of the electricity grid. The full funding opportunity announcement, including application requirements, can be found on Energy.gov.

The SunShot Initiative, which is managed by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), will oversee the projects associated with this funding opportunity. SunShot is a collaborative national effort launched in 2011 that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy cost competitive – without subsidies – with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. The Grid Modernization Initiative is a comprehensive effort involving DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and EERE to help shape the future of our nation’s grid and solve the challenges of integrating conventional and renewable sources with energy storage while ensuring that the grid is resilient and secure to withstand growing cybersecurity and climate challenges.

http://energy.gov/articles/energy-department-announces-25-million-accelerate-integration-solar-energy-nation-s

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AGelbert

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Re: Photvoltaics (PV)
« Reply #166 on: May 18, 2016, 09:38:51 pm »
I Was Wrong About the Limits of Solar. PV Is Becoming Dirt Cheap  ;D


Harvard’s David Keith revisits his assumptions about solar costs: “Facts have changed.”

by David Keith
 April 28, 2016

Over the last few years, solar PV has gotten cheap. Cheap enough to start impacting some commodity energy markets today. Cheap enough that with continued progress, but no breakthroughs, it might alter the global outlook for energy supply within a decade.

I have long been skeptical of solar hype. In 2008 we did an expert judgment exercise suggesting only even odds of getting to module prices of $0.30 per watt in 2030. In 2011 we did some analysis showing how the power-law learning curve for modules appeared to be flattening. That analysis was done at the end of a decade that saw big increases in installed capacity, with little corresponding change in module prices.

I worried that deployment incentives (the global total amounting to many hundreds of billions of dollars over the past decade) would simply lock in the current technologies and do little to drive the breakthroughs that were needed to get solar cheap enough to compete for commodity power.

I was wrong.

Current costs

Facts have changed. Just a few years ago, the cost for industrial systems was twice what it is today. A host of little innovations have driven costs down. Module prices are now around $0.50 per watt. The unsubsidized electricity cost from industrial-scale solar PV in the most favorable locations is now well below $40 per megawatt-hour and could very easily be below $20 per megawatt-hour by 2020. Compared to other new sources of supply, this would be the cheapest electricity on the planet. Let’s look at how that cost is calculated.

The current state of play is captured in three facts:

• The capital cost of industrial (>50 megawatt) solar PV installations with north-south axis trackers is now about $1,500 per kilowatt, and contracts for some industrial systems without trackers are getting down to $1,000 per kilowatt.

• Capacity factors of industrial systems with trackers are reaching just over 30 percent at the best sites in the U.S.

• Real-world efficiency for commercial PV systems now exceeds 20 percent.

Let’s now proceed on the assumption that these facts are correct. What does this mean for electricity supply cost?  ???

Assume that an average capital change factor (CCF) is 6 percent, a low but not unfeasible value, as the risk premium for these facilities has decreased dramatically. (CCF is the ratio of the total annualized cost of capital, spread across debt and equity, divided by capital cost.) At $1,500 per kilowatt, a 6 percent per year CCF, and 30 percent capacity factor, electricity cost is $34 per megawatt-hour.

1500 × 0.06/(8760 × 0.3) = 34

Note that this low cost of capital would only make sense for a project that was selling into a low-risk market.

Now suppose costs for big systems (>100 megawatts) get to $1,000 per kilowatt by 2020, and you install them in the world’s best locations using a north-south oriented single-axis tracker to a capacity factor of 34 percent. These trackers used to add a lot of capex, but disciplined manufacturing and scale has driven cost down to about $100 per kilowatt. (Here is info on the Sunpower C1 tracker.)

Under these assumptions, power cost is $20 per megawatt-hour -- or $0.02 per kilowatt-hour.

1000 × 0.06/(8760 × 0.34) = $20 per megawatt-hour (or same cost at $750 per kilowatt and 26 percent CF).

That’s $5.5 per gigajoule for electricity. ($20 per megawatt-hour and 3.6 gigajoules per megawatt-hour = $5.5 per gigajoule.)

Even $40 per megawatt-hour is very cheap power. The 2013 median price of sales to industrial customers in the U.S. was about $60.

That’s the good news. But cheap solar does not deal with the problem of solar power’s intermittency. It does not mean rooftop solar in New England makes sense. It does not magically decarbonize the world. In the long run, we need low-carbon dispatchable power in the world’s demand centers. This will require some combination of gas for peaking, storage, and long-distance transmission. Lots of the world’s demand is in places where insolation is at least 40 percent less than in the best locations, which are parts of Mexico, Southern California, the Mid-East and Australia.

But it does mean that one can now build systems in the world’s sunny locations and get very cheap power.


Implications

What does this mean?

Implication #1: In sunny places, solar will reshape commodity power markets.


Examples:

• Power prices will have a midday low. This is already happening in California, where it’s called the “duck curve.” It will soon be the norm in other high-sun demand centers, and the changing power price structure will shake utilities and industrial customers.

• Wind suddenly looks less interesting. The capacity factors, global build rate, and costs for wind power have been nearly flat for five years.

• Nuclear and CCS will have a harder time competing. For example, there are nuclear builds in the Middle East (e.g., UAE building Korean reactors), but with cheap solar it will be hard to compete against solar with gas backup.

• Gas for load following and low-capex peaking looks ever more important.


Implication #2: There will be opportunities to bring electrical demand to areas where power is cheap.


One option is look for products that have very high energy costs and are easily transportable, and build solar farms and production together in high-insolation sites.

Four options are aluminum, ammonia, desalination, and transportation fuels. The first two are each about 1 percent of global primary energy demand. Niches, yes, but not small. Desalination is growing fast and it’s much cheaper to store water than electricity.

If (a) most of the energy demand is from processes that can handle a diurnal cycle, and if (b) the amortized capex is low compared to the energy cost, then one can deal with variability by simply cycling the production facility on and off.

For transportation fuels, if cheap solar means hydrogen prices under $10 per gigajoule in sunny places, then carbon-neutral synthetic fuels look promising. It takes about 2 t-CO2 and 40 gigajoules of H2 to make 1,000 liters of gasoline using a process like Exxon Methanol-to-Gasoline. If we can get CO2 from the air at $125 t-CO2 then the idea of making fuels at prices around $1 per liter looks plausible over the next few decades.


The upshot

Cheap solar is limited by intermittency and by the fact that many of the locations with the highest energy consumption don’t have good solar resources (e.g, northeastern U.S., northern Europe, coastal China).

In the near term, a surprising amount of intermittency can be managed cost-effectively with gas turbine backup, and this works even as electricity sector carbon emission are pushed down to a third of today’s values. Looking further ahead, long-distance electric transmission can move solar power from good sites to demand centers and can reduce the impact of intermittency by averaging supply and demand across larger areas.

Looking even further ahead, if we want a stable climate, humanity must bring net carbon emissions to zero. And, if we hope for a prosperous world with ample energy that can raise standards of living for the poor, then energy demand will more than double, growing to beyond 30 terawatts.

Climate is not the only problem: energy systems have other social and environmental costs, and the land footprint of energy is a good proxy for environmental impacts on water, landscapes, and the natural world. My view is that only two forms of energy -- solar and nuclear power -- can plausibly supply tens of terawatts without a huge environmental impact. But that’s a topic for future posts. For now, let’s celebrate the last decade’s progress toward cheap solar.

David Keith is a Gordon McKay professor of applied physics and professor of public policy at Harvard. This piece was originally published at his Harvard blog and was reprinted with permission.

To learn and debate about these kinds of energy system topics, sign up for Harvard's free edX course launching on June 8th, Energy Within Environmental Constraints. You can also follow the course on Twitter and Facebook, where we'll announce more blog posts like this one in the weeks leading up to the course.


http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/i-was-wrong-about-the-economic-limitations-of-solar-power

Agelbert NOTE: Good for Mr. Keith that he admitted he was wrong abut solar. He is still wrong about wind power, given computer load balancing technology and forever energy storage systems coming online like ARES.

Quote
In April, the Bureau of Land Management approved an ARES—that’s Advanced Rail Energy Storage—project, conceived by a Santa Barbara-based energy startup called, well, ARES. By 2019, ARES operations head Francesca Cava says, the facility will occupy 106 acres in the excellently-named town of Pahrump, Nevada....The Nevada project has a power capacity of 50 megawatts and can produce 12.5 megawatt-hours of energy. That’s relatively large, especially compared to a lot of battery storage projects.
http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/rocks-rails-and-big-hill-are-all-you-need-store-renewables.html

The above system can be scaled up to 65 GW! So, when the wind is blowing hard and the sun is shining, ALL that energy can be saved WITHOUT ANY battery cycle limitation. The only caveat is that, unlike battery and gas peaking power, the response time is a rather slow 5 seconds.

Within a few years and some new transmission lines strung across this country, Mr. Keith will need to revise his erroneous assumptions about wind too.

To his credit, he has already admitted that nuclear is way too expensive. It's nothing but a job security welfare queen operation for the nuke pukes, as well as NOT being carbon neutral, when all the energy costs and pollution costs are figured. 

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AGelbert

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Re: Photvoltaics (PV)
« Reply #167 on: May 19, 2016, 04:02:42 pm »
SolarCity Corp: A Solid Long-Term Bet to Squeeze the Shorts (SCTY)

The technicals agree with the strong fundamental case for SCTY
By Dan Burrows, InvestorPlace Feature Writer  |  May 19, 2016, 2:01 pm EDT
 
SolarCity Corp (SCTY) is getting crushed this year with an ugly earnings report and guidance cut only making matters worse recently, but at least one analyst says the beat down has set SCTY up for a short squeeze.

SolarCity Corp: A Solid Long-Term Bet to Squeeze the Shorts (SCTY) Depending on the time frame you choose, solar stocks have been a miserable place to be for the past year some time. Using the Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN) as a proxy, the sector is down 32% for the year-to-date and by more than half over the last 52 weeks.

SCTY stock sure isn’t helping. It’s guilty of weighing heavily on results with some very wide underperformance. SCTY stock has lost 60% this year so far and nearly 68% over the last 52 weeks. Many multi-year time frames are likewise icky.

But the bottom — on a near-term basis — might have been found.

SCTY crumbled after it reported a wider-than-expected quarterly loss a little more than a week ago. Management also took a scythe to its outlook.

Demand for Solar City’s products and services was well understood to be slowing in the U.S. Low prices for oil and natural gas are not its friends. But the damage being done by macroeconomic forces turned out to be even worse than feared.   

And then a funny thing happened. After dipping below $16 a share in intraday trading early this month, SCTY began a sneaky good run. Shares are up almost 11% since the post-earnings collapse and now a Raymond James analyst says they’re poised for even bigger gains.

A Short Squeeze  in SCTY Stock? ???

Quote
Analyst Pavel Molchanov, who maintains a “strong buy” rating on the stock, is “convinced that the stock is oversold and ripe for a bounce/short squeeze.” From his note to clients, via Barron’s, Molchanov identifies three “myths” that are pushing SCTY stock down to unreasonable levels:

•Myth No. 1 – PV Demand Is Slowing: “One version of the argument claims the market is saturated, even though the percentage of U.S. households with rooftop PV is merely 1%…we see no evidence of saturation. The second argument is that utilities are successfully blocking rooftop PV, forcing installers to spend even more on customer acquisition. There is some truth here, since utilities are routinely fighting rearguard actions on net metering – but they have lost the bulk of these fights.”

•Myth No. 2
– Financing Is a Struggle: “SolarCity has had no problem raising all the project-level capital it needs. Despite a high-yield landscape that has clearly seen better days, SolarCity successfully priced two securitizations year-to-date. Although the yields are higher than a year earlier, reflecting high-yield softness, the deals got done.”

•Myth No. 3 – Unrealistic Discount Rate: “The last securitization was done at 6.25%, and the Hancock deal at 8%. Looking at these two data points, you could conclude that 6% is too low.”


SCTY CHART (at article link)
Click to Enlarge On a technical basis, SCTY is indeed deeply oversold. Just look at the RSI and MACD in the accompanying chart.

Molchanov makes a strong bull case on a fundamental basis and has some technicals on his side. By these measures, SCTY stock looks good as a trade or a long-term investment. 

Unfortunately, the only certainty in between the two is more excessive volatility.  :P

As of this writing, Dan Burrows did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

http://investorplace.com/2016/05/solarcity-scty-stock-short-squeeze/
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AGelbert

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Re: Photvoltaics (PV)
« Reply #168 on: May 23, 2016, 11:39:06 pm »
 

Google’s Project Sunroof Expands to 42 States and Millions More Rooftops


First and foremost, this is about how Google can catalyze the rooftop solar market.”

by Julia Pyper 
 May 20, 2016

With the recent expansion of Project Sunroof, tens of millions of potential solar customers from across the U.S. can now Google their own rooftops to find out if their home is suitable for solar panels.

Google launched Project Sunroof last August in three cities -- San Francisco, Fresno and Boston. In January, the program expanded to 20 U.S. metropolitan markets in the most active solar states in the U.S., including California, Massachusetts, Arizona, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Connecticut, Colorado and North Carolina.

Last month, Project Sunroof hit a new milestone by expanding to 42 states, with the ability to analyze roughly 43 million rooftops. According to Google, “thousands” of customers are visiting the Project Sunroof website each month, and the company is continuously working to expand its reach.

Project Sunroof is currently not available in Texas, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Idaho, South Dakota, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alaska and the District of Columbia. However, Google plans to reach all 50 states in the coming months.

“Google is in the business of providing universal access to information,” said Nicole Lombardo, head of business development and partnerships at Project Sunroof, in an interview. “So being able to take the imagery that we have and find new use cases for it that can help, in this case catalyze the renewable energy transition here in the U.S. ...is within our core.”

As a company, Google is also a large user of renewables and wants to “help others outside of the company choose cleaner power options,” she said.

Project Sunroof works by using high-resolution aerial imagery from Google Earth to help calculate a roof’s solar energy potential. Potential customers simply need to enter their address, and in roughly one second the program analyzes factors such as shade, roof orientation and local weather patterns to calculate how many hours of sunlight hit that roof in a typical year. All of this information is combined to create an estimate for how much the household could potentially save by going solar over the term of a 20-year lease.

Users can fine-tune the estimate by entering their electricity bill information. They can also view savings estimates for different financing options, including a loan and direct purchase. Potential customers can then click to see solar providers in their area.

Project Sunroof currently hosts a mix of solar companies, including major players like SunPower, local installers like Verengo Solar and new players like Pick My Solar. Interested customers can choose to share their contact information with selected providers on the Sunroof platform or contact them directly.

For customers, this amounts to a quick and easy way to learn more about solar and get an initial quote. For companies, Project Sunroof serves as a lead generator. But rather than receive a list of names, installers receive a list of customers that are actively looking at going solar and whose rooftops have already been prescreened.

Quote
“First and foremost, this is about how Google can catalyze the rooftop solar market,” said Lombardo, speaking at GTM's Solar Summit. “That was some of the first feedback we got from developers: volume, volume, volume -- we need more qualified homeowners.”

“The second piece of feedback was [the question of whether Google can] help us expedite the process of qualifying someone,” she added. “That’s where some of the new imagery that we have and being able to calculate whether or not they have enough roof space helps simplify a couple of steps.”

This service isn't free for solar companies. Providers have to pay to join the platform, and they have to bid to receive referrals. It’s up to users to actually send their information over to a provider, and the company pays only when Google shares its information.

Max Aram, founder and CEO at Pick My Solar, which operates a marketplace of rooftop solar installers, said he finds Project Sunroof to be valuable in two ways: “One is that when Google jumps into an industry it’s a validation for that whole industry,” he said. “The other thing is that the quality is good and the model is interesting. They’re not trying to buy and aggregate leads originated by other companies; they’re originating their own deals and controlling the search. So obviously, it’s going to be much easier for Google to provide these leads.”

As awareness around solar increases, Google could eventually eliminate the myriad of lead generation companies currently out on the market, said Aram. Google provides a key top-of-the-funnel service, because Google search is virtually universal. Once the leads are generated, Aram said he sees marketplace companies like Pick My Solar taking control of the sales process for a large segment of the market, similar to Kayak or Expedia for travel. Solar companies would then manage the installation.

A central challenge for Google is to continue to expand the pool of customers. Today, customers are primarily learning about the Project Sunroof through news articles and by using Google to search for "Project Sunroof" in order to find it.

“Because we’re still in an early stage, the majority of the market does not know this this tool exists,” said Lombardo. “So one of things we’re hoping to work on is making it more widely known.”

Google is also working to make the service more widely available. Project Sunroof is now available in 42 states, but those states do not have full Google Earth coverage. At the same time, Google is continuously trying to improve its imagery. There is a team of 10 employees, mostly engineers, working to refine the technology and offer more granular information on things like the boundary of a roof and height points like a chimney.

“We’re never done,” said Lombardo. “We are constantly helping to train the neural network behind this.”

In addition, Google is working on how to make the tool more valuable to solar companies. Sunrun and SolarCity, for instance, are not Project Sunroof partners. These companies have already made major investments in their own customer acquisition and engagement programs, and already spend a lot money on online marketing with Google and other companies. Paying more to access Google’s solar leads, particularly at the pace and scale at which national installers operate, is an expensive and potentially redundant proposition.

Lombardo acknowledged that the Sunroof project is evolving. Eventually Google plans to go beyond residential solar to support community and commercial solar projects. The company could also offer new services to solar companies, like tracking utility rate changes -- it just depends on technology barriers and demand.

“We’re definitely at a point where we’re looking for partnerships and ideas,” she said. “We’re here to help.”

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Googles-Project-Sunroof-Expands-to-42-States-and-Millions-More-Rooftops
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Re: Photvoltaics (PV)
« Reply #169 on: May 24, 2016, 03:37:10 pm »
5 Floating Solar Farms From Around the World

Lorraine Chow | May 24, 2016 2:25 pm |

Floating solar projects are popping up in all corners of the world, from Japan, the UK, Brazil, the U.S. and Australia.

A rendering of the 13.7 megawatt plant on the Yamakura Dam reservoir in Japan, which will be the largest floating solar plant in the world once construction is complete. Photo credit: Kyocera

There are a number of benefits to floating solar plants, aka “floatovoltaics.” Compared to mounted panels, floating systems are naturally cooled by the bodies of water they sit on, therefore boosting power production efficiency. Many floating PV developers point out that the floatovoltaics shade the water, which reduces water evaporation and slow algae blooms.

“The efficiencies are what motivated us to look at this,” Rajesh Nellore, the chief executive of Infratech Industries, told the New York Times.

The Sydney-based company erected a floating solar system in Jamestown, South Australia that claims to generate 57 percent more energy than rooftop panels.

The plant floats on a wastewater facility in Jamestown and is the first part of a larger system that will cover five basins, the company says on its website. The system consists of raft supporting standard photovoltaic panels, which are specially coated to prevent corrosion, due to their close proximity to water.

Another plus of floating arrays is how it makes use of unused space. In the UK, a 6.3 megawatt floating solar project consisting of 23,000 solar panels sits on Walton-on-Thames’ Queen Elizabeth II reservoir, an area that isn’t used for any other purpose, The Guardian reported. The £6 million (about $8 million) project will help power local water treatment plants that provide clean drinking water to London and south-east England’s 10 million residents.

At roughly the size of eight soccer stadiums, the Thames Water floating solar array will briefly hold the title of world’s largest floating solar facility before Japan’s mega-solar farm finishes in 2018, which will have a capacity of 13.7 megawatts. The New York Times noted that if everything goes as planned in the next two years, the 50,904 panels that will float atop the Yamakura Dam reservoir in Japan will generate an estimated 16,170 megawatt hours annually or enough electricity to power almost 5,000 homes.

The company behind Japan’s massive solar plant, Kyocera TCL Solar, started construction in January this year and explained why floatovoltaics are ideal.

“With the decrease in tracts of land suitable for utility-scale solar power plants in Japan due to the rapid implementation of solar power, Kyocera TCL Solar has been developing floating solar power plants since 2014, which utilize Japan’s abundant water surfaces of reservoirs for agricultural and flood-control purposes,” the company said in a press release.

Solar is also an increasingly attractive option for regions or countries that are going through drought. With Brazil’s historic drought drying up its hydroelectric plants, the South American country is turning to solar power to diversify its energy mix to stave off a potential power crisis.

As EcoWatch reported last year, below-average rainfall in recent years have depleted the country’s reservoirs, thus gutting the country’s formerly plentiful supply of hydropower, which supplies more than three-quarters of Brazil’s electricity, the U.S. Energy Information Administration states.


The nation announced last year it would commence pilot tests of a 350 megawatt floating solar farm located atop the Balbina hydroelectric plant in the Amazon. 

“We are adding technological innovation, more transmission lines, diversifying our energy generation source, introducing solar energy in a more vigorous manner and combining solar energy with hydroelectric energy,” Mines and Energy Minister Eduardo Braga said last year.

According to PV Magazine, Brazil switched on the first 10 megawatt stage of its floating Ballina plant in March.

Another advantage of floating solar systems is that they can be hidden from public view, which is a factor that led the California nonprofit Sonoma Clean Power to pursue the technology, the New York Times reported.

“Sonoma County boasts some of the most beautiful rolling hills, and people don’t want to see them covered by solar panels,” Rebecca Simonson, a senior power analyst for the renewable energy developer, told the publication.

The Times reported that the company has signed purchasing agreements for floating solar arrays to be built on six treated water ponds in the county. The solar panels, Simonson said, would not be visible from the road.

http://ecowatch.com/2016/05/24/floating-solar-systems/

Agelbert COMMENT: They should put a giant floating solar farm in Lake Mead to drastically reduce evaporation due to the drought.
The light colored part of the terrain is where the water used to be in Lake Mead.     

Over 10% of the water lost now is due to evaporation. The energy could be used to pump water below the dam back into the reservoir, adding to the water level and storing the captured solar energy for NON-intermittent 24/7 use.   
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Re: Photvoltaics (PV)
« Reply #170 on: May 24, 2016, 09:52:07 pm »
PV 35% efficiency, predicted to not be developed before 2050, JUST ACHIEVED!  :o     

New solar tech sets record for converting unfocused sunlight to electricity

Megan Treacy (@mtreacy)
Technology / Solar Technology
 May 18, 2016

Sometimes it seems like a new week, a new solar cell record achieved. It's an exciting time in solar technology, especially since there are so many different configurations and types of solar cells being developed and tested in the lab and they all have their different strengths and weaknesses.

Currently, the king is still the conventional crystalline silicon solar cells that are in the majority of solar panels you see out in the world, while organic thin-film solar cells are catching up and hold possibly greater potential thanks to their flexibility and low cost to manufacture.

Researchers are constantly looking for a more efficient solar cell -- one that can convert the most amount of sunlight into electricity so that the technology can not just compete with fossil fuels, but blow them out of the water. A team at the University of New South Wales has developed a solar cell that pushes us closer to that goal.

Often when a new solar cell efficiency record is made, it's with the use of focused or amplified sunlight, but the UNSW team has broken the record for normal, direct, unfocused sunlight by hitting a 34.5 percent conversion efficiency. Current solar panels on the market have an efficiency of, at best, around 20 percent.

The team used a 28 centimeter-square, four-junction mini-module embedded in a prism, which splits the incoming light into four bands to maximize the sunlight captured. The cell features a silicon cell on one face of the prism and a triple junction solar cell on the other. The junction has three layers that each extract energy from sunlight at its most efficient wavelength. A light passes through one layer, what wasn't used, passes to the next, and so on.

This team has previously set a record for concentrated photovoltaics using the same set up, but boosted the efficiency by concentrating the light with mirrors, hitting a 40 percent conversion rate. This time though, they boosted the efficiency of the solar cell itself and were able to set a record with just normal sunlight, no mirrors.

"What's remarkable is that this level of efficiency had not been expected for many years," said Green, explaining that a recent study of current solar photovoltaics, like those used in home solar panels, predicted that a 35 percent conversion rate wouldn't happen until 2050.

The theoretical maximum conversion rate for this type of solar cell is 53 percent, so this research is moving close to that maximum. The researchers don't see these types of cells ending up in mass-market rooftop solar because they're costly to manufacture, but rather used in a concentrated photovoltaic solar power plant where large mirrors concentrate the sunlight on a solar tower.

http://www.treehugger.com/solar-technology/new-solar-tech-sets-record-converting-sunlight-electricity.html
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Re: Photvoltaics (PV)
« Reply #171 on: June 04, 2016, 08:47:18 pm »
Chile Producing So Much Solar Energy It’s Giving Electricity Away for Free  :o 

Lorraine Chow | June 3, 2016 11:00 am

Thanks to Chile’s major investments in renewables, the Latin American country is seeing an incredible solar boom.

In a new Bloomberg report, Chile Has So Much Solar Energy It’s Giving It Away for Free, solar capacity from the country’s central grid has increased four fold to 770 megawatts since 2013. Another 1.4 gigawatts will be added this year with many solar power projects under development.

Thanks to an economic boost from increased mining production, Chile now has 29 solar farms and another 15 in the pipeline. Enel Green Power Chile Ltda. recently commissioned Chile’s largest solar PV project connected to the grid. The 160-megawatt facility will be located in the northern part of the country in the municipality of María Elena, about 1,300 kilometers north of Santiago.

With so much clean power available, the price of solar has cost absolutely nothing for certain regions in recent months. As Bloomberg stated:

Spot prices reached zero in parts of the country on 113 days through April, a number that’s on track to beat last year’s total of 192 days, according to Chile’s central grid operator.

However, the article points out that Chile’s rapid solar expansion isn’t all good news. Due to the nation’s bifurcated power grid, the central and northern grids are not connected.

PV Insider noted that most of the demand is in the central grid, yet the best solar resource in the country resides in the Atacama desert in the north. The northern grid represents approximately 24 percent of installed capacity whereas the central grid holds the majority of capacity at 74 percent of installed megawatts.

The northern grid is where solar prices are going to zero, Bloomberg noted. Meanwhile, the main population centers in the south are not seeing the same benefits.

Chile, therefore, must invest in its transmission infrastructure in order for the whole country to tap into the north’s glut solar power and stabilize demand.

“Chile has at least seven or eight points in the transmission lines that are collapsed and blocked, and we have an enormous challenge to bypass the choke points,” Energy Minister Maximo Pacheco told the publication. “When you embark on a path of growth and development like the one we’ve had, you obviously can see issues arising.”

The good news is that the Chilean government is addressing the problem with its planned 1,865-mile transmission line that will link the two grids by 2017.

http://ecowatch.com/2016/06/03/chile-solar-energy/
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Re: Photvoltaics (PV)
« Reply #172 on: June 06, 2016, 06:46:31 pm »
New Solar Loan Program Now Available in 14 States

Katie Pohlman | June 6, 2016 2:16 pm

SolarCity announced June 2 a new loan program, available in 14 states, that will save customers money on solar energy bills and help them earn tax credits.

The new loan program includes fixed payments and shorter terms. It will replace SolarCity’s popular MyPower product, which allowed SolarCity to provide more loans in 2015 than any other solar installer, according to a news release.

“We can now offer a loan that makes it possible for many customers to pay less for solar from day one, and still receive thousands back in tax credits on top of that,” SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive said. “This program will allow thousands of additional customers across the U.S. to install solar this year and start saving money immediately, and we expect to work with multiple lenders that will allow us to expand to several new states by the end of the month with the same great terms for our customers.”

The new loans offer a range of features, including:

•10-year loan with annual percentage rate as low as 2.99 percent.

•20-year loan with annual percentage rate as low as 4.99 percent.

•Customers can prepay their entire balance or prepay a portion of their loan to lower their monthly payments at any time, with no fees or penalties.

•SolarCity’s loans include the industry’s best service package, including a 20-year warranty, production guarantee, and continuous monitoring.

•SolarCity provides the industry’s best mounting system and installation aesthetics, and backs up its agreements with the largest in-house service footprint in the industry, with 90 local operations centers.

•SolarCity will provide and install a Nest Thermostat at no additional cost for qualifying customers.

SolarCity is offering the new loans in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and Washington, DC. The company hopes to expand to new locations by the end of the month.

http://ecowatch.com/2016/06/06/solarcity-loan-program/

Agelbert  COMMENT: Good! The whole problem with people adopting solar has always been the upfront costs. Solar has been cheaper, over the product life, than fossil fuels for home energy for at least a decade.

When the pollution costs of fossil fuels are figured in, solar, wind and geothermal have always been cheaper than fossil fuel energy.
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Re: Photvoltaics (PV)
« Reply #173 on: June 09, 2016, 09:31:52 pm »
TOP SOLAR ENERGY MYTHS

Ever heard how scientists estimate that more than enough solar energy strikes the earth every hour to power our whole society for an entire year?

But despite the tremendous source of energy staring many of us in the face every day, some keep debating the merits of solar power and other renewable energies, asking the same questions over and over again.   

How effective is solar energy? Is it more expensive? Where and how does solar fit in the larger energy grid?

Many of the arguments against solar are based on outdated or incorrect information.


That’s why we’re setting the record straight on some of the most common solar energy myths.


1. Myth: Solar energy is too expensive and isn’t economically viable for most people.

Fact:
The claim that solar energy is too expensive is out-of-date and continues to be proven wrong. The average cost of solar panels fell 75 percent between 2009-2014 alone, and some analysts predict the cost of PV modules will drop 25 percent by 2018.

The result is that in many regions around the world and parts of the US, electricity from solar is as cheap – or even cheaper – than electricity from coal, oil, or natural gas.

So it’s no surprise that clean energy is one of the world’s fastest growing industries, and already makes up more than 20 percent of the world’s electricity generation. Bonus: when you use solar energy to do things like power homes or schools, you’re helping protect humans from higher carbon emissions, unnecessary air pollution, and
the devastating impacts of climate change.


2. Myth: Carbon dioxide isn’t the main cause of global warming. What about solar variations?

Fact:
There is a consensus from 99 percent of climate scientists that human activities are the cause of the global warming we’re seeing now.

Scientists know our climate is changing, primarily due to carbon pollution from the burning of dirty energy like oil, natural gas, and coal. Changes in the radiation the sun emits – known as “solar variation” – affects the climate, too.

But scientists take this into account and weigh the contributions these changes make to our climate, which today are minimal to negligible compared to those from carbon pollution. It’s clear that man-made carbon dioxide pollution is overwhelmingly responsible for the global warming we’re experiencing now.


3. Myth: Clean coal is the answer. Why invest in solar when we have clean coal?

Fact:
There’s no such thing as “clean coal.” Solar power, on the other hand, is a real,clean energy technology that is viable today.

In reality, “clean coal” is a false solution. Coal is a dirty fuel no matter which way you look at it. The coal mining process blasts away mountaintops and leaves toxic slurry ponds behind. Burning coal results in pollutants that are harmful to human health, like mercury and smog. As if this weren’t enough, worldwide, more carbon pollution comes from the burning of coal than any other fuel.


4. Myth: Solar power isn’t worth it because it won’t work in locations that are cloudy or cold.

Fact:
Solar power works even in cold or cloudy places. Because of the way the technology works, solar panels are just as effective—and usually more effective— in cooler temperatures as in hot ones. And while it’s true that clouds can affect the efficiency of solar panels, they can still produce enough power to be viable sources of electricity. Germany, for example, is a country that is not particularly warm or sunny,
but is nevertheless the world leader in solar energy.


5. Myth: Solar panels are unreliable.

Fact:
The opposite is true. Most solar panels produce electricity for over 20 years or more as their parts do not wear out easily. In fact, many of the first solar systems installed over 40 years ago are still active today.

Additionally, using solar power diversifies our energy sources, making the entire grid more dependable. We have more tools available to make solar and other variable renewable technologies more reliable than ever, such as larger and more integrated grids, better resource forecasting, and more use of energy storage technologies.

What will need to be replaced in the next 30 years are aging fossil fuel infrastructures like outdated coal-fired power plants.

If we make the switch and rely on renewable sources of energy like the sun, we can save billions of dollars by avoiding not only the costs of replacing these plants, but also the increasingly higher costs of climate change in areas like healthcare expenses and damage from extreme weather.

http://www.climaterealityproject.org/sites/climaterealityproject.org/files/Solar_Myths_Updated.pdf

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Re: Photvoltaics (PV)
« Reply #174 on: June 16, 2016, 03:46:37 pm »
Engineers discover light can stamp out defects in semiconductors for better solar panels and LED bulbs

June 16, 2016
 
University of Utah materials science and engineering associate professor Mike Scarpulla wants to shed light on semiconductors—literally.


Scarpulla and senior scientist Kirstin Alberi of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, have developed a theory that adding light during the manufacturing of semiconductors—the materials that make up the essential parts of computer chips, solar cells and light emitting diodes (LEDs)—can reduce defects and potentially make more efficient solar cells or brighter LEDs. The role of light in semiconductor manufacturing may help explain many puzzling differences between processing methods as well as unlock the potential of materials that could not be used previously.

Scarpulla and Alberi reported their findings in a paper titled "Suppression of Compensating Native Defect Formation During Semiconductor Processing Via Excess Carriers," published June 16 in the journal, Scientific Reports. The research was funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

Semiconductors are pure materials used to produce electronic components such as computer chips, solar cells, radios used in cellphones or LEDs. The theory developed by Scarpulla and Alberi applies to all semiconductors but is most exciting for compound semiconductors—such as gallium arsenide (GaAs), cadmium telluride (CdTe), or gallium nitride (GaN)—that are produced by combining two or more elements from the periodic table. GaAs is used in microwave radios in cellphones, CdTe in solar panels, and GaN in LED light bulbs.

The fact that compound semiconductors require more than one chemical element make them susceptible to defects in the material at an atomic scale, says Scarpulla, who also is a University of Utah electrical and computer engineering associate professor.

"Defects produce lots of effects like difficulty in controlling the conductivity of the material, difficulty in being able to turn sunlight into electricity efficiently in the case of solar cells or difficulty in emitting light efficiently in the case of LEDs," he says.

For nearly a century, researchers have usually assumed that the numbers of these defects in semiconductors were uniquely defined by the temperature and pressure during processing. "We worked out a complete theory that couples light into that problem," Scarpulla says.

The team discovered that if you add light while firing the material in a furnace at high temperatures, the light generates extra electrons that can change the composition of the material.

"We ran simulations of what happens," Scarpulla says. "If you put a piece of a semiconductor in a furnace in the dark, you would get one set of properties from it. But when you shine light on it in the furnace, it turns out you suppress these more problematic defects. We think it may allow us to get around some tricky problems with certain materials that have prevented their use for decades. The exciting work is in the future though—actually testing these predictions to make better devices."

The team is working to apply their theory to as many semiconductors as possible and testing the real world results. For example, the team believes this could improve the efficiency of solar panels that use thin films of cadmium telluride and even those made from silicon.

"It's really cool to be working on this fundamental problem in semiconductors," says Scarpulla. "Most of the ideas were worked out decades ago, so it is really exciting to be able to make a contribution to something fundamental. It feels like we have shined light onto a new path and we don't know how far it will take us."   


http://phys.org/news/2016-06-defects-semiconductors-solar-panels-bulbs.html#jCp
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Re: Photvoltaics (PV)
« Reply #175 on: June 22, 2016, 08:53:05 pm »
Australians have spent almost $8bn on rooftop solar since 2007   , says report

Exclusive: Solar Citizens says since the 2012-13 financial year, rooftop solar owners have saved about $1bn on their household bills each year

   
The report estimates solar owners will avoid 6.3m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2016, equivalent to taking a third of all trucks off Australian roads.       

Michael Slezak ,@MikeySlezak
   
Tuesday 21 June 2016 16.03 EDT  Last modified on Tuesday 21 June 2016 16.04 EDT 

Australian households and small businesses have invested more than $1bn a year in rooftop solar over the past five years, spending a total of almost $8bn since 2007, new calculations show.

In its latest State of Solar report, Solar Citizens – which campaigns for, and represents the interests of, solar owners – has for the first time estimated Australian’s out-of-pocket investment in rooftop solar, how much money it has saved consumers, and how much carbon it has abated.

Overall, it found Australians have spent $7.8bn on rooftop systems since the 2007-08 financial year, an estimate based on the total amount of solar capacity installed and the cost of those systems.
 
In the past five years, that figure was more than $1.2bn each year – an investment that eclipses that spent on large-scale solar in most of those years, according to the report.

Those out-of-pocket costs didn’t include any subsidies or rebates solar owners received.

But since the 2012-13 financial year, Solar Citizens calculated solar owners saved about $1bn on their energy bills each year, with those in the Northern Territory leading the way, saving an average of $1,989 each in the 2014-15 financial year.

In total, solar owners have saved $4.4bn since the 2007-08 financial year.

Although 60% of solar owners said they primarily bought solar systems for financial reasons, 38% said they did so for environmental reasons, according to a poll of 4,300 Solar Citizens supporters from January.
 
And when it came to environmental outcomes, the report estimated solar owners will avoid 6.3m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2016 – which they found is equivalent to taking a third of all trucks off Australian roads.

The report tried to emphasise the political weight solar owners now have  , with about 5 million people living in homes with solar systems.   

Analysing the data in relation to federal seats, Solar Citizens found 80% of federal electorates have more voters with rooftop solar than would be required to change their sitting members. And of the electorates with the highest numbers of solar owners, seven out of the top 10 were now held by Coalition MPs.

Australian households have led the world with the density of small rooftop solar PV systems, about 16.5% of households now producing some of their own electricity. From 2006 to 2010, the number of solar systems installed each year in Australia trebled year-on-year.

“The growth is astonishing and it is fascinating that we can see, for the first time, what average Australians themselves have invested to ride this boom,” said Claire O’Rourke, national director of Solar Citizens.

“Australian political leaders need to understand just how much the average Australian themselves have committed of their own money to play a part in the transition of our power system,” she said.

“The global transition to renewables is already under way. Australia needs a national plan to harness the multi-billion-dollar renewables boom and manage the orderly transition to 100% clean renewable power.”

In April, Solar Citizens and GetUp! published a report advocating a range of policies intended to transition Australia to 100% renewable energy by 2030. It proposed changes in three broad areas: regulations, funding and obstacles to the rollout of renewable energy.

That report followed modelling the groups funded, produced by the institute for sustainable futures at the University of Technology Sydney, which suggested such a transition would be technically feasible and would save the country $90bn.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/22/australians-have-spent-almost-8bn-on-rooftop-solar-since-2007-says-report
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Re: Photvoltaics (PV)
« Reply #176 on: June 24, 2016, 01:49:39 pm »
06/20/2016 02:42 PM   
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Make Buying Your Solar System  Inexpensive

SustainableBusiness.com News

If you want to add a rooftop solar system to your home or finance energy efficiency upgrades, you can now do that through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at low interest rates.

Because solar prices are so low, more people want to buy their arrays rather than lease them. By owning your system you get a 30% federal tax credit and don't have the problem of transferring a solar lease to the next owner if you sell. It also increases the value of your home while greatly reducing electric bills. 

Solar is the most economical choice for electricity in 42 of the 50 largest cities in the US and home buyers consistently pay about $15,000 more for homes with solar! 

Read our article, Homeowners: Don't Consider Solar a Luxury.

Under Fannie Mae's HomeStyle Energy Mortgage, you can roll the costs of buying a solar system into a new mortgage, underwritten by many lenders. And you can include energy efficiency upgrades like insulation and new windows.

You can't finance more than 15% of what your home is worth, however, so if you want to spend more, consider Freddie Mac, where there's no cap. If you're interested, find a lender that's knowledgeable about these programs.

Last year, Fannie Mae began offering discount mortgages for multifamily green buildings that are LEED or Energy Star-certified. Fannie and Freddie also provide financing to make multifamily buildings more energy and water efficient. A HUD program (Housing and Urban Development Department) has a refinancing program to encourage energy upgrades in older affordable housing.

Read our article, With Solar Prices So Low, People Are Buying Systems, Not Leasing Them.


http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/26649

Agelbert NOTE: I have been advocating this for about ten years. It's nice to see some common sense from our gooberment for a change. Eat your heart out, fossil fuelers. This too will add to demand destruction of your biosphere degrading polluting product.
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Re: Photvoltaics (PV)
« Reply #177 on: July 12, 2016, 02:55:13 pm »
https://www.engadget.com/2016/07/04/solar-road-technology-comes-to-route-66/

    
It gets hotter than pistol on route 66 (except in winter, of course). But all year round it is a VERY sunny road. 
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Re: Photvoltaics (PV)
« Reply #178 on: July 16, 2016, 03:11:40 pm »
Energy| Jul 15, 2016

California Breaks Solar Record, Generates Enough Electricity for 6 Million Homes

 By Lorraine Chow

California has hit a new solar generation record, thanks to this week's triple-digit heat wave. SF Gate calculated that on Tuesday, the Golden State's solar power plants briefly generated enough electricity for more than 6 million homes.

According to figures from California's Independent Solar Operators Corporation (ISO) which operates most of the state's grid, a whopping 8,030 megawatts of large-scale solar power was generated at 1:06 p.m. on July 12, nearly doubling the amount of solar energy produced in mid-2014 and nearly 2,000 megawatts higher than in May 2015.

"This solar production record demonstrates that California is making significant strides forward in connecting low carbon resources to the grid in meeting the state's goal of reaching 33 percent renewables by 2020," ISO President and CEO Steve Berberich said. "California continues to lead the nation in adding clean resources to the system and writing a playbook for operating a low carbon grid."

Agelbert NOTE: Of the above Renewable Energy resources, California only lacks Wave Energy, Offshore Wind, and Tidal Turbines. Polluting Energy resources have no future in California.  ;D

The ISO noted that at peak electricity demand on Tuesday at 5:54 p.m., almost 29 percent of electricity needs were met by the state's vast renewable energy portfolio that includes solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels, small hydro-electricity and energy storage. 

Renewables have incredible potential for the state as evidenced this past May 14 and 15, when renewables fulfilled an impressive 54 percent and 56 percent of demand, respectively.
   


When it comes to solar energy, the sun-spoiled state is head and shoulders above the rest. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has consistently ranked California as the nation's top solar state, and reported in April that California has more solar jobs and installed more megawatts of solar capacity last year than any other U.S. state. Its 13,241 megawatts of cumulative installed solar capacity is capable of powering an estimated 3.32 million homes.

And according to the U.S. Department of Energy, "for both utility-scale solar PV and solar thermal, California has more capacity than the rest of the country combined, with 52 percent and 73 percent of the nation's total, respectively. "

"Solar power generation is just growing astronomically, and it is less expensive,"
Anne Gonzales, an ISO  spokeswoman told the Sacramento Business Journal. Indeed, solar costs and prices are continuing to drop as solar installations soar.

However, there have been some roadblocks. The Ivanpah plant in California's Mojave Desert—a 392 megawatt concentrated solar power tower and one of the world's largest solar plants—famously caught on fire in May. ::) 
Quote
Forbes also pointed out that on especially sunny days, "the state's energy sources (nuclear, gas, renewables) produce more energy than it needs, which has resulted in the grid operator telling solar farms to shut down   >:(."
Officials are now looking into connecting with nearby states to share excess energy  , Forbes said.

Still, this shining week proves that California is making incredible strides towards its ambitious renewable energy goals of 33 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2030.

Last year, on the day Gov. Jerry Brown was sworn in for his fourth term in office, he boasted that California has "the most far-reaching environmental laws of any state and the most integrated policy to deal with climate change of any political jurisdiction in the Western Hemisphere."

Brown listed a multi-pronged approach to achieving the state's renewable energy targets, including more distributed power, expanded rooftop solar, micro-grids, an energy imbalance market, battery storage, full integration of information technology and electrical distribution, and millions of electric and low-carbon vehicles.


http://www.ecowatch.com/california-breaks-solar-record-1924247588.html

Quote

"Hitting peak oil will come faster than any of us think. But don't blame dwindling supply — it's all about disappearing demand" Amory Lovins




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Re: Photvoltaics (PV)
« Reply #179 on: July 24, 2016, 12:25:15 am »


Reuters Fri Jul 22, 2016 3:49am EDT

Related:  Environment,  China,  Global Energy News 

China installed 20 GW of solar power in first-half; triple from a year ago

China installed 20 gigawatts (GW) of solar power capacity in the first half of 2016, three times as much as during the same period a year ago, state news agency Xinhua reported late on Thursday citing the country's largest solar industry lobby.

The surge in capacity extended China's lead over Germany as the top solar generator, said Wang Bohua, General Secretary of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA), according to Xinhua.

Power developers were also pushed to complete installations ahead of a proposed reduction in the price paid for solar power by grid operators, said Wang.

China' government decreed in late 2015 that only projects that were operational by June 30, 2016, would be eligible for a 'feed-in tariff' of roughly 1.0 yuan (15 U.S. cents) per kilowatt hour (kwh), while projects completed after that date would be eligible for a lower tariff rate.

Production of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules also increased to 27 GW, up by 37.8 percent in the first half of the year, the CPIA said in a report on its website, adding that the profit margins of the major manufacturers improved to an average of 5 percent from 4.85 percent last year.
 
China surpassed Germany as the largest solar power generator worldwide last year, with installed PV capacity totaling 43 GW as of the end of 2015.

The government has set a national target for new commercial solar power capacity of 18.1 GW for this year, which is below initial market expectations and is a sign that the government is trying to slow capacity expansion in the power generation sector.
 
Including experimental roof-top projects and charitable installations in impoverished areas, total new solar capacity is expected to be 30 GW by year-end, CPIA said.

The CPIA data showed that the western provinces have the greatest surplus capacity, with the provinces of Xinjiang and Gansu wasting 52 percent and 39 percent of their respective generated solar power in the first quarter.
 
China's solar power output increased 31.3 percent from a year ago in June to 3,300 gigawatt hours, according to the National Statistics Bureau. That equated to 0.7 percent  :(  of total power generation, and was the first time the statistics bureau carried solar output data.


(Reporting By Kathy Chen; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)


http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-solar-idUSKCN1020P7
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