As the PV industry scales in size . . .Let’s make a case for a grass roots movement and a local industry

November 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

The news from Solar Power International 2011 in Dallas is that the American market for PV continues to scale in size across all sectors.

Sector 2010 Sector 2010 percentage 2011 projection
Residential

264 MW

30%

19%

Non-Residential

372 MW

42%

27%

Utility

242 MW

28%

54%

Total

878 MW

100%

100%

Source: SEIA/GTM; Solarbuzz

More and more utility-scale is the dominate sector; more and more the non-residential sector is comprised of larger and larger systems completed by project developers; and more and more the residential sector is dominated by large solar lease aggregators that sell their lease contracts to Wall Street tax incented investors.  What about the local installer in local markets?

At SPI 2011, SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association) announced that the trade association’s number one political objective in 2011 was a one year extension of the Department of Treasury Section 1603 cash grant program.  This program and the 100% bonus depreciation available through 2011 have helped to skew these market sectors to large players and large-scale systems.

Are these trends to large scale good for the PV industry?  Sure they are!  As an industry, we need all PV sectors to grow and prosper.  And growth in one sector does not need to be at the expense of another sector.

At SPI 2011, I made a presentation entitled:

Small Scale PV for Large Scale Market Penetration

The intent of the presentation was to highlight the inherent attributes of scalable, distributive, grid-tied PV in small-scale residential systems and to make the point that for the PV industry to prosper over a long period, the industry needs advocates – a political base.  Ultimately, that political base is comprised of one homeowner or one small business at a time.

If politics is local, so is the PV industry.

I have attached a copy of my SPI 2011 presentation.

Large Scale PV Market Penetration Through Small Scale 10.11.11 (ppt).

Chet Boortz, CEO

SES21 USA, LLC

[The comments, positions, and opinions stated above are my own and may or may not represent those of SES 21 USA and its affiliate companies.]

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Schott Solar Cells achieve new efficiency records

September 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

The team at Schott Solar have been all fired up about their monocrystalline screen-printed solar cells; and they have reason to be excited with a cell power of 4.92 W.

In 2010 Schott Solar made waves with the world record for a module efficiency of 17.6 percent with their multicrystalline cell concepts.  With more than three years of development and research under their belts they were able to apply their expertise to monocrystalline.

SCHOTT Solar Poly 230W, 235W, 240W

Schott - 230W, 235W, 240W

Utilizing selective emitter technology and passivated rear side contact (PERC) they were able to achieve a cell that is now the world’s first 156 mm x 156 mm screen-printed solar cell with 20.2 percent efficiency. (Laboratory results in conjunction with The Schmid Group from Freudenstadt, Germany)

Schott Solar reports they are energized by these findings and are working on optimizing the manufacturing process for development of highly efficient modules. To follow the progress of Schott Solar’s new cell technology they will be sharing information at The 26th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC).

Click here to find out more about Schott panels.

Bosch Solar Energy introduces new, free PV app for iPhone and iPad

August 16, 2011 § 2 Comments

  • Calculate the expected energy yield from a Bosch solar power system anywhere in the world
  • Direct contact with wholesaler and Bosch Solar Energy
  • Bosch Solar Friend available to download for free

Bosch Solar Energy now has an app available for iPhone and iPad, which allows users to analyse solar yields just by putting their phone on the roof. This is a great way to give residential and commercial prospects a quick and easy estimation of the economics of a PV solar installation using Bosch Solar Energy products.

Find out about Bosch Solar Panels…

Bosch Solar Friend - iPhone and iPad App

Bosch Solar Friend - iPhone and iPad App | Picture: Bosch Solar Energy

Excerpt from iTunes Store:

Bosch Solar Friend – Seek the sun and start a solar friendship that works worldwide!

Saving energy costs and simultaneously helping to protect the environment – not possible? Think again and look no further than your roof.

The new Bosch Solar Friend helps you analyze your rooftop conditions and determine the best system for solar power generation at any location worldwide.

Bosch Solar Friend makes it really easy to estimate the average annual energy yield that can be expected when installing Bosch solar modules on your rooftop. Simply align your iPhone with your roof, and you are done – all relevant parameters are automatically determined using the internal functions of your iPhone (like compass and GPS). For comparison with other locations, a manual input is possible as well.

By additionally specifying your roof size and the operation time of the system, you will also get information on the ideal number of modules, the overall energy yield over operation time, the total earnings for your country (depending on your FiT´s) and the amount of CO2 saved by your photovoltaic system.

There is more: the Bosch Solar Friend also leads you directly to special sales contacts, shows references of Bosch Solar Energy projects and helps you contact Bosch via website, telephone and Facebook.

NOTE: The use of Bosch Solar Friend is not intended to replace a detailed planning procedure by a qualified installer. Special local environment conditions such as trees, buildings and other shadowing obstacles may alter the actual possible energy yield. The given revenue data represent approximate values for shadow-free systems.

Gallery: 

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Bosch Solar Energy and SES 21 USA:

We are proud to be an exclusive distributor for Bosch Solar Energy products here in the United States.

DOE guarantees financing for 733 MW of rooftop installations . . . perfect!

August 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Seal of the United States Department of Energy.

Image via Wikipedia

But wait, it’s not for you . . . it’s a big win for the big players.

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced this week conditional loan guarantees totaling $1,400,000,000 for 750 warehouse roofs.  Should we be happy?  Well, I am not exactly thrilled.

Here’s the deal.

Project Amp . . . a consortium of large cap players: NRG Energy, Prologis, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.

  • NRG is one the largest wholesale power generation companies in the U.S.  Its portfolio includes 24,000MW of nuclear, coal, natural gas, wind, and utility-scale solar generation.
  • Prologis is a leading owner, operator, and developer of industrial real estate (warehouses) in America.
  • We know about Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.

NRG and Prologis will own the solar projects and receive cash grants or ITC and accelerated depreciation.  NRG Solar undoubtedly will be the sole project contractor, and apparently, the big banks need a U.S. government loan guarantee to make secured project loans.  Really?

Amazingly, DOE Secretary Chu states:

This unprecedented solar project . . . will help us meet the SunShot goal of competitive solar power with other forms of energy by the end of the decade.

Please Mr. Secretary, do we really need to wait eight more years to declare something that is within reach today?  Why are you feeding the big fish instead of homeowners across America?

So, as solar enthusiasts, we cheer solar projects of any size and description.  But still . . .

What if instead of Project Amp, the Secretary had announced a loan guarantee program for 366,000 2kW home solar systems (733MW/2kW = 366,000).  At $1,400,000,000, this would be a loan guarantee of $3,800 per home or about 50% of the after PTC costs.  Perfect!

If resources are limited, should we spread the benefit to a larger community of owners and contractors?

For 366,000 2kW home solar systems, imagine the number of homeowner solar advocates, local contractors (jobs!), community bank loans, suppliers, and more.

This is how we take solar to the market . . . one home at a time.  Homeowners vote and are policy advocates; warehouses just sit there and are depreciated and sold and resold.  If you want to advance distributive solar energy, begin with homeowners.

Market supply and demand will determine when solar power is competitive.  Indications are that we already are there . . . we do not need to wait until the end of the decade.

Bank of America should learn again how to make a secured project loan.  It’s not that tricky!

Solar is scalable, distributive, affordable, and economic . . . let’s bring it home!

Chet Boortz, CEO

SES 21 USA, LLC

[The comments, positions, and opinions stated above are my own and may or may not represent those of SES 21 USA, LLC and its affiliate companies.]

Solar Design Customized to your Home

July 22, 2011 § 1 Comment

Quite often we get calls at SES 21 USA from homeowners or installers who are struggling with some design issues: what to do about trees that shade or how to handle odd pitched roofs.  A number of times we have seen people assume that they are not candidates for solar and give up quickly on the idea.

Rooftop in South Texas

We recently had a resident call in with a bit of a tricky roof. As you can see in the photo  his roof has many different pitches and the gables which cause shading in the late afternoon.  A roof mount was definitely an option but the installer and customer decided on this ground mount system. The customer had the space for it, unobstructed by trees or other buildings. Plus he can really maximize his ability to produce solar power with this ground mount system. Did we mention the home is in very sunny South Texas!

Here is a photo of the final system designed with Schott 230’s and Kaco inverters!

South Texas Ground Mount

Congrats to the homeowner and the installer for designing such an efficient and practical  source of energy.

From ingots to solar modules to Canada

June 28, 2011 § 1 Comment

Today, we’re shipping out a delivery of 700 LDK polycrystalline modules to Canada. And this is just the start!
LDK modules are brand new in our brand portfolio. Established in 2005 in China, LDK Solar is a leading producer of solar wafers in terms of capacity and a leading high-purity polysilicon and solar module manufacturer. Complete vertical integration ensures quality control from the solar ingot to the solar module.

LDK Solar - completely vertically integrated - from the ingots to solar modules

Quality and high efficiency are one aspect that make a great module, however that would not be enough to make it into our warehouse. LDK solar modules come with a 25 year performance warranty which is backed by Munich RE, a globally renowned insurance company from Germany.
Today’s shipment:

Texas electricity consumers purchasing MORE renewable energy . . .

May 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

but, the Texas House seeks MORE confrontation with the EPA 

The Governor and his lobbyists-inspired legislators keep telling us what Texans want, but they never really ask nor listen to their Texas constituents.  What’s up?  Well, we know about politics, safe districts, campaign finance, primaries, presidential aspirations, and dogma in Austin.

Here is something we also know.  In America and in Texas, a citizen’s best opportunity to be heard is to speak through his or her choices and spending.  Economic decisions are a far better indication of ‘what Texans want’ than twisted and self-serving political spin from Austin.

On May 13, 2011, ERCOT (the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas) reported that Texas electricity customers chose to buy 30% more renewable power in 2010 than in 2009.  Interesting? 2010 was not a spectacular year . . . recession, unemployment, low-income, falling home prices, cheap electricity . . . and yet, 30% more Texans chose renewable energy as their source of electricity.

Renewable Energy Increase in % - 2009 2010

Renewable Energy Increase in % - 2009 2010

Let’s dial up our legislators in Austin.  Did anyone notice?  Notice what?

On May 21, 2011, busy Texas House members amidst a host of other pressing issues: state budget, shortfalls, education, healthcare, loser pays all, and of course, concealed handguns in college classrooms, found the time (maybe 30 seconds) to pass 107-34 a resolution urging the U.S. Congress to keep the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases from oil refineries.  Oh, thank goodness!  What a worry.

The resolution also urges the EPA not to interfere with emissions from gas wells, factories and electricity generating sources (i.e., coal).  Whew, now I feel safe, and I know what I want!

So here is the score: Texas consumers choose more renewable energy, and Texas Legislators choose more status quo and vested interests, that is to say, more SOx, NOx, Mercury, and GHG’s.  What’s up in Texas?  Who is representing whom?

Your real vote in Austin is cast with the choices you make.  The legislators in Austin are not listening to you.  They are very busy with their lobbyists.

As an electricity consumer in Texas, we have alternatives.  We can choose wind power from most electric utilities or REP’s, or we can choose grid-tied solar electricity, large or small, designed to meet any portion of our household electricity load.

Renewable energy in Texas is a bottom up, ground swell movement; one consumer, one house, and one business at a time.  It’s affordable, it’s economic; it’s here all over Texas; and it’s growing each year.

Do not wait on Austin.  Just do it!

Chet Boortz, CEO

SES 21 USA

[The comments, positions, and opinions stated above are my own and may or may not represent those of SES 21 USA and its affiliate companies.]

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