Solar News Link Bonanza (New Solar Panels, Warranty Increases, Bill Clinton to Solar Industry…)

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Some more solar news from around the interwebs from the past couple weeks:

Ascent Solar has announced the North American introduction of EnerPlex, a solar-assisted battery case for the iPhone 4 and 4S. “The EnerPlex cases are now available online through the distributor’s website at and soon via The EnerPlex for iPhone 4 & 4S takes advantage of Ascent’s ultra-light, thin and flexible solar panels and enables iPhone 4 & 4S users to provide supplementary charging of their iPhones with sunlight in addition to conventional charging methods to extend the usage time of iPhones.”

SolarWorld has launched a new, 270-watt, 60-cell “Sunmodule” solar panel. “The light-capture and energy-conversion technology platforms underlying SolarWorld’s 270-watt solar panel combine numerous advances in materials, process and design to achieve the industry’s highest levels of energy output. These advances include using more advanced technology on the front of the cell to convert more light into electricity, modifying the back of the cell to increase electrical conductivity and adding anti-reflective glass coatings that transmit more light while withstanding environmental degradation. Deploying these technology platforms, SolarWorld has boosted its power density from 250-watt-peak to 270-watt-peak in less than 12 months.”

Q.CELLS North America, a subsidiary of Q.CELLS SE, recently unveiled a new, high-efficiency PV solar module of its own. “Q.PRO L features 72 cells that combines both high performance and long-term reliability that optimizes balance of systems cost savings on the system level. As the largest addition to the Q.CELLS module family, Q.PRO L is designed to yield up to 300 Wp power for utility scale use in North American solar markets.”

sunpower warranty new
SunPower warrants more power with a degradation rate of 0.4% a year after the first five years, resulting in an unprecedented 87% power level at the end of 25 years. (PRNewsFoto/SunPower Corp.)

SunPower has introduced the solar industry’s first 25-year combined power & product warranty. The Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels, and solar systems “is also shifting to a linear power warranty that offers the lowest power degradation over the life of the system.” Notably, SunPower’s new warranty is far ahead of the pack.

“SunPower is the only solar company to offer a straightforward 25-year global product warranty, which is 15 to 20 years longer than conventional solar warranties.  Integrated into SunPower high-efficiency solar panels are the company’s patented Maxeon® all-back contact solar cells which are built on a solid copper foundation, making them extremely resistant to cracking, corrosion and stresses from temperature variation.  In the unlikely event a solar panel needs to be repaired or replaced, an identical or functionally equivalent panel will be provided or the cost of the panel will be fully refunded.  The associated labor and transportation costs for customers whose solar panels were installed by SunPower or SunPower dealer/partners are covered.  The new warranty is also written in plain, simple terms that detail the coverage.”

SunPower also recently announced that it “has extended its long-standing partnership with Toshiba for the next several years.” This renewal entails a commitment from Toshiba to purchase over 100 MW of SunPower’s high-efficiency solar panels for the residential solar market in Japan. “Since SunPower first partnered with Toshiba in 2010, it has delivered approximately 70 MW of its high-performance solar panels.”

SunWize & Clean Power Finance have partnered up. As a result of the partnership, “SunWize’s national network of solar installation professionals will have access to a number of competitive financing tools, allowing them to serve a much larger group of customers.” Clean Power Finance & Soligent also partnered up this month.

bSolar this month launched its high-power, high-efficiency, bifacial, photovoltaic (PV), crystalline silicon solar cells and modules in the US market. “Bifacial modules collect sunlight on their rear sides to generate 10%-30% additional electricity and much higher project IRR and ROI.” bSolar’s product had already been introduced in Germany and Japan, and it is a German product. “The new modules will be among the few solutions compatible with the ‘cool roof’ initiative promoted by U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu, and are eligible for tax rebates for roof coating at both state- and federal-level.”

Canadian Solar has launched a new solar product — ResidentialAC. “ResidentialAC is a revolutionary AC solar energy solution with advanced technology that delivers a double-digit increase in solar power production over traditional micro inverters. Pre-installed at the factory, ResidentialAC’s advanced inverter technology was designed and built from the ground up, with a core focus on performance and longevity. The technology eliminates life-limiting components, dramatically increasing the inverters’ life expectancy. The Canadian Solar AC solar solution eliminates the danger of high voltage DC power and wiring for safer, easier installation.”

Suntech has introduced a compact, 305-watt solar module in Europe. “The SuperPoly STP305-24/Ve, with 15.7 percent efficiency, is ideally suited for large-scale commercial projects seeking a low levelized cost of energy (LCOE). In addition, the new Ve-Series modules feature a slim frame design lowering storage and shipment costs by up to 16 percent.” The solar module will be available starting in November.

Yingli Solar subsidiary Yingli Green Energy Australia Pty. Ltd. has signed an agreement with Solar 360 Pty Ltd. to appoint Solar 360 as a sales partner in Australia. “According to the Agreement, Solar 360 will sell and promote 30 MW of Yingli Solar modules in Australia in the following 12 months through a unique “Accredited” dealer network of up to 100 accounts across all geographic regions of Australia.”

Yingli Solar also recently introduced a 72-cell solar PV module certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for a maximum system voltage rating of 1,000V. “Specifically designed for the utility-scale market, the YGE-U 72 Cell module lowers balance-of-system costs by decreasing the required number of wire runs and combiner boxes. The module also allows increased maximum system voltage, which improves system performance by reducing resistive losses. The end result is increased PV system energy yield.”

ReneSola unveiled its Micro RePlus™, “available as a standalone microinverter or integrated with a ReneSola panel for a turnkey AC module,” this month, as well as its high-wattage 300-watt and 305-watt 72-cell poly line. “This comes in addition to the Company’s already comprehensive 60 and 72-cell poly and mono portfolio, ranging in size from 255 W to 305 W high-efficiency solar modules…. The latest line of high-wattage modules will be backed by ReneSola’s leading 25-year linear power output warranty, with optional PowerGuard™ insurance.”


Solar Power International 2012

Greentech Media had a couple good pieces from the Solar Power International 2012 conference. Here are some excerpts and links to more:

SPI 2012: The Solar CEOs Weigh In

With 5.7 gigawatts of solar power now in place and growth booming, how many total installed gigawatts of solar will the U.S. have in ten years? What impact will the outcome of the November presidential election have on growth?

These and other predictions were asked of six of the most prominent solar industry players by Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) President Julia Hamm and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) President Rhone Resch at the kickoff event for Solar Power International 2012, the solar energy industry’s annual conclave.

The CEOs’ predictions for solar’s 2022 installed capacity ranged from 45 to 75 gigawatts.

Noting the “exploding” growth in distributed generation being driven by today’s unprecedentedly fast-falling costs, SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR) CEO Tom Werner made the optimistic 75-gigawatt prediction.

“I see headwinds, and I’m very concerned,” NextEra Energy subsidiary Florida Power and Light (NYSE: NEE) President Eric Silagy, the panel’s utility sector representative, said of economic uncertainties, conservative political forces, cheap natural gas prices and creative destruction in the manufacturing sector. “Now is the time to be worried.”

“These things are true in any innovation cycle — the early cell phone business, for instance,” venture capitalist Nancy Pfund, Managing Partner of DBL Investors, said.  “Solar isn’t there yet, but signals are everywhere of mass adoption.”

–How many regulated utility monopolies will the country have in ten years?

Peter Marte, President of Georgia-based Hannah Solar, did not see utilities giving up their power easily. “Southern Company (NTSE: SO) is a fourth branch of government in the Southeast,” he said. “It is not going to go away.”

Recalling how disruptive to the recording industry the MP3 player was, SMA America President Jurgen Krehnke said he foresees a completely new role for the utilities as a manager of the transmission and distribution network. “Completely new business models will emerge. It will happen.”

“It took 100 years to build a dumb grid,” Pfund said that a utility executive recently noted to her. “Don’t hold your breath for a smart grid.”  But, she added, renewable energy “is nimble” and can be effective in a new utility model.

–Will storage be commonplace for solar energy within five years?

Pfund pointed out that it is already in place in solar power plants and, because it is an ideal solution to solar’s variability, it will be commonplace within two to four years.

“I see the need,” Silagy said, “but don’t see it [becoming] affordable in the next five years.”

–With the manufacturing side of the industry now going through a painful process of maturation and consolidation, how many of the roughly 1,500 module manufacturers will be left in 2016?

“It is going to be 100,” said NRG Solar CEO Tom Doyle. The pipeline for low-cost modules of unproven quality is not there, he explained. There is a new, higher level of scrutiny by project funders. It requires a much higher level of demonstrated quality.

“Shoddy product quality,” Krehnke agreed, “is a threat to the industry.”

Proven quality and a good balance sheet, Doyle said, are the limiting factors to acceptance for a module manufacturer.

Clinton to Solar: ‘You Represent the Future’ and ‘You Will Prevail’

He has only 308 solar panels on the roof of his presidential library, former President Bill Clinton announced at the opening of his Solar Power International 2012 keynote, and he is taking bids to drastically expand. “So if anybody wants in, send me an email.”

He then picked up the subject of creative cooperation he talked about at the Democratic National Convention.

To build “energy that is good economics, saves the planet from the worst consequences of climate change and promotes the national security of every country that is committed to clean, self-sustaining energy, you have to have cooperation between government and the private sector,” he said. “The constant mud fight, fact-free environment in which American politics often operates is counterproductive.”

He told a story about a minister who, during a sermon, excitedly told everybody in the congregation who wanted to go to heaven to stand up. Everybody but one little old lady in the front row did. “Sister Jones, the minister said, you are most devout member of our church. Don’t you want to go to heaven when you die?”

“She immediately jumped up,” Clinton said, “and yelled, Yes! But I thought you were trying to get a load to go right now.”

“Folks,” Clinton then said to the solar industry audience, “we need to get a load to go right now!”

To make that happen, he said, “Americans need to know more than they know now.” Most do not know that 100,000 people work in solar, that more people work in greentech than in coal, that in the depths of the recession, greentech grew at 8 percent, and that venture capital made the U.S. first in the world in greentech investment in 2011.

“To listen to the people on other side of this debate, you would think the President and his allies in Congress totally robbed the Treasury to subsidize bankrupt industries,” Clinton said, but “there are still $22 in subsidies for coal, oil and nuclear for every dollar invested in the clean energy future.”

Most Americans also don’t know, Clinton said, that the European countries that did the best during the recent financial crisis were those that had the most invested in greentech.Germany, he said, recently generated “from the sun alone, the equivalent of twenty nuclear power plants in a country where on average the sun shines as much as it does in London.” A Deutsche Bank study found, Clinton said, “the Germans have netted 300,000 jobs out of their commitment to a solar future.”

No government makes energy policy without public-private cooperation, he said. That creates “far more entrepreneurs, far more privatization, far more variation and creativity than any other way of energy development and electricity production.”

It was in what Clinton called George W. Bush’s “proto-socialist stage” as governor of Texas that the first tax credits went to wind developers, an incentive program that resulted inTexas being the leading wind state, with more installed wind capacity than all but a handful of countries.

“These are things people need to know,” he said. Greentech “is the direction people are going who are thinking about where the future is.” And, he said, “you represent the future. If we sell this as keeping America at the head of the future business, you will prevail.”

“You are going to bring America to a tipping point,” Clinton said. “You just need to bear down.” Sooner or later, he promised, “people will see this is good economics, helps in the climate change struggle and improves national security.”

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Zachary Shahan

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