Wednesday, 30 December 2009

China amendment to boost renewable energy

China adopted an amendment to its renewable energy law Saturday that requires utilities to buy all the power produced by generators of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.

Power enterprises that refuse to do so will face fines up to an amount double that of the economic loss of the renewable energy company, state-run news agency Xinhua reports.

The amendment also requires the Chinese government to set up a special fund for renewable energy scientific research, finance rural clean energy projects, build independent power systems in remote areas and islands, and build information networks to exploit renewable energy.

The fund would be managed by finance, energy and pricing sectors of the state council.

China's renewable energy law, which took effect in January 2006, covered subsidies, pricing management and supervision measures and was aimed at "optimizing the country's energy structure and safeguarding energy security."

China, the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, last year relied on coal for nearly 70 percent of its total energy use. But its goal is to increase use of renewable-energy sources to 15 percent of its total by 2020, from 9 percent last year.

Last month Chinese president Hu Jintao announced a separate target ahead of the Copenhagen climate-change summit to reduce the country's carbon emissions relative to economic output by 40 percent to 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

Yet China's emissions will continue to grow as its economy expands.

The amendment "strengthens the confidence of achieving the target" and "contributes to the global fight on climate change," said Wang Zhongying, director of the renewable energy development center of the Energy Research Institute under China's National Development and Reform Commission, Xinhua reports.

According to Xinhua, renewable resources supplied 9 percent of China's total energy consumption last year, equal to reducing carbon dioxide by 600 million tons. It said China used more hydro and solar power than any other country and ranked fourth worldwide for its use of wind power.

But industry experts estimate that one-third of China's wind-generated electricity could not be well transmitted to the grid. The new legislation requires grid companies to improve transmitting technologies and enhance grid capability to absorb more power produced by renewable energy generators.

Xiao Liye, director of the Institute of Electrical Engineering of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, suggested using "smart grids" to enhance grid capability. He said "smart grids" and renewable energy should be developed in tandem like "twin brothers."

Source - Solar Daily

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

World's largest solar energy project planned for Africa desert

The Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII) group claims a network of solar plants in north Africa harnessing the sun's rays will be the biggest in the world, dwarfing the current largest installation already running at Andasol in southern Spain.

Planners hope the project will eventually provide 15 per cent of Europe's electricity by 2050, together with similar amounts of electricity for countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

It is thought the energy demands of the world could be met by covering as little as one per cent of the world's deserts.

Dr Gerry Wolff, coordinator of DESERTEC-UK, a group of British investors in the project, said: "Within five years people in the UK could start to use desert electricity that has been produced in the Sahara.

"Householders will be able to say they are making a cup of tea with energy collected from the African sun.

"The consortium of businesses needs to talk to the relevant governments and there will be a need to make changes to laws and regulations to smooth the path for these developments.

"An important point that must be stressed is that the electricity will be for people throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. If everyone is benefiting, this will help the project to run smoothly.

"Much of the project depends on the good will of the people living in the countries where we will collect the sunshine."

The DII group hopes to begin building the huge solar plants within three years and delivering energy by 2015.

Instead of using photovoltaic solar panels that absorb the sun's blistering rays, hundreds of giant mirrors would instead reflect the light and concentrate it – firing the sunbeams at a focal point, such as a tower next to the field of mirrors.

Such technology is already at work at the PS10 and PS20 CSP plants near Seville in Spain.

Dr Wolff added: "Because it is relatively cheap and easy to store solar heat, a CSP plant can carry on generating electricity at night – something that is not so easy to do with photovoltaic solar panels."

The full list of businesses who have joined the consortium are ABB, Cevital, Deutsche Bank, E. ON, HSH Nordbank, MAN Solar Millennium, Munich RE, M&W Zander, RWE, SCHOTT Solar, and Siemens.

Source - Telegraph

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Large, Solar-Powered, Sustainably Built Affordable Housing

When it opens later this year, Ironhorse will offer 99 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments that will be affordable to families with annual incomes ranging from $18,000 to $50,000. Designed by architect David Baker + Partners, Ironhorse includes many sustainable building and landscaping measures, including:

+ Vegetated "green roofs" that last longer than standard roofs and provide excellent insulation from both heat and sound.

+ Solar hot water panels to pre-heat domestic hot water.

+ Solar panels that supply nearly all of the electricity to power the common areas.

+ Certified CRI Green Label Plus carpets.

+ 100% of outdoor furniture, benches and seat walls made of composite lumber created from recycled materials.

+ A landscape irrigation controller that receives weather data via a satellite connection and a high-efficiency drip irrigation system.

+ Two vegetated swales, which naturally filter and percolate rainwater captured from the roofs into the water table.

GreenPoint Rated, a widely recognized program of Build It Green, grades homes in five categories: energy efficiency, resource conservation, indoor air quality, water conservation and community. Currently, new multifamily developments score an average of 85 points under the rating system; Ironhorse has a pending GreenPoint Rating of 116 points.

"We are committed to creating energy- and resource-efficient homes that are cost-effective, good for the environment and healthier places to live," said Lydia Tan, Interim President and CEO of BRIDGE. "Visitors to Ironhorse will see how it's possible to incorporate significant green measures into affordable multifamily homes."

Ironhorse stands at the center of a major reintegration of some 29 acres of abandoned former industrial land into the surrounding residential neighborhood.

Ironhorse forms part of Central Station, a new master-planned undertaking by several developers including BUILD, a BRIDGE affiliate. A total of more than 1,200 new homes will be constructed, along with new neighborhood-serving retail and the anticipated restoration of the historic 16th Street Station.

Source - Solardaily

Solar panels – A new way to invest in your future

Solar panels are about to become more affordable. Over the past decade, solar panels – called photovoltaic or PV panels and solar heating have become increasingly visible.

They power street lamps and road signs in some counties, and are increasingly seen on homes up and down the UK. The key change the government are bringing in April next year is the feed in tariff and that means you and I can earn money from generating our own electricity.

So if there are doubts about how effective solar panels are, and overcast skies, the financial argument is about to get much better.

Especially as electricity costs have doubled in the last three years, says Stuart Lovatt from Heat my Home.

“If you put solar panels on your roof the government will pay you 36p – or 36.5p is the number out for consultation and what we expect it to be,” he said.

“The pay-back time on your investment could still be nearer to 10 years.”

“Even on a cloudy day, it can generate over 50%.”

“We do have doldrums. When we have heavy clouds, they cease to produce anything to let you run the washing machine and so on.”

Most days, on an average kind of day, there’s enough juice to keep our HDTV, surround sound stereo and other creature comforts running. No problem.

Ironically most solar panels manufactured in Wales are exported to mainland Europe, especially Germany. With more generous grants for householders to invest in lowering their energy bills there, solar panels are more common than here.

Possibly – if homeowners prefer to invest £8-£20,000 in solar panels rather than keep their cash in a bank – the feed-in-tariff system next April could see far more panels on houses all over Wales, utilising the power of the sun.

Source - BBC

Sunday, 6 December 2009

China solar panel makers see boost from कोपेन्हागें

In Trina Solar's brilliant white factory in eastern China, masked workers in lab coats turn silicon wafers into solar power cells capable of harnessing the sun's clean and limitless energy.

China is now the world's top producer of the cells -- the tile-like engines of solar panels -- and firms like Trina see next week's climate talks as a potential key moment in the wider adoption of renewable energies like solar.

"The Copenhagen talks, from our point of view, are going to be positive," Terry Wang, Trina's chief financial officer, told AFP in an interview.

"A global target for emissions cuts would have a positive impact across all 20 countries we sell to."

As the world seeks to curb the carbon emissions blamed for global warming, companies such as Trina illustrate how central China will be to that effort.

Thanks to a surging Chinese solar cell industry, there may have never been a better time for the world to go solar.

Chinese production capacity surged more than fourfold in the past year to 8 gigawatts -- more than the total global 2010 demand of 7.5 gigawatts in solar panels, according to Yuanta Securities.

Meanwhile, a collapse in financing for large solar projects in Europe -- linked to the world financial crisis -- has pushed solar cell prices to near historic lows.

As a result, the prices for solar modules -- the grid-like panels typically comprising 60 cells -- are half what they were at the beginning of 2008, said Min Li, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Yuanta Securities.

Global solar power demand last year roughly equalled 10 medium-sized coal-fired electricity plants, said Rory Macpherson, investor relations director at China's New York Stock Exchange-listed SunTech, the world's largest solar panel maker.

"For solar to be effective in decreasing carbon emissions, we really need to increase the scale and adoption many times over," he said.

As the world's leading source of carbon emissions, China has launched ambitious plans to increase use of renewable energies like wind but has yet to harness the sun. Yet that is changing.

China did not figure in Trina's sales charts last year, but will account for two to three percent of the New York-listed company's sales this year, Wang said, adding he expected China sales to double in 2010.

Domestic customers will represent about five percent of SunTech's sales this year, Macpherson said.

"In the next three or four years it could be one of the world's largest markets," he said.

Beijing kick-started a solar drive this year with its "Golden Sun" stimulus plan to subsidise half the cost of solar power generation and transmission facilities, rising to 70 percent in remote, off-grid areas.

The government last week announced the first batch of 294 projects, which are expected to come on line within three years and generate 642 megawatts at a cost of 20 billion yuan (2.9 billion dollars).

It did not specify how much it would pay in "Golden Sun" grants, adding it wanted to gradually reduce Chinese producers' reliance on overseas sales and build infrastructure so the national grid can tap solar power.

China announced last week it planned to curb 2020 emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 40-45 percent from 2005 levels.

It had already set a target of generating 15 percent of its power through renewable sources, including solar power, by 2020.

Renewables are expected to account for 10 percent of China's energy by 2010, according to officials.

That means it will have to add 1.8 megawatts of solar generation per year from 2011 to 2020, Yuanta's Li said.

"Starting from 2011, China's domestic market will be on a par with some of the leading European countries," he said.

The sector remains dependent on subsidies, especially European producers.

Still, Trina, which boasts the lowest prices in the market, expects strong growth in Italy, France and the United States next year.

European producers accuse Chinese producers of selling panels at unsustainably low prices to grab market share.

Wang rejects the allegation, saying Trina's gross profit margin in the third quarter of this year rose to 29 percent from 22 percent a year earlier due to falling costs.

"Government incentives will not last forever," he said. "We should continue to reduce the price of solar systems so we can be more competitive with traditional power generation. That's healthy for the solar sector."

Source - Solar Daily

Brown attacks flat-earth global warming scepticism

Gordon Brown tonight led a chorus of condemnation against “flat-earth” climate change sceptics who have tried to derail the Copenhagen summit by casting doubt on the evidence for global warming.

Sceptics in the UK and the US have moved to capitalise on a series of hacked emails from climate change scientists at the University of East Anglia, claiming they show attempts to hide information that does not support the case for human activity causing rising temperatures.

On the eve of the Copenhagen summit, Saudi Arabia and Republican members of the US Congress have used the emails to claim the need for urgent action to cut carbon emissions has been undermined.

But tonight the prime minister, his environment secretary, Ed Miliband, and Ed Markey, the man who co-authored the US climate change bill, joined forces to condemn the sceptics.

“With only days to go before Copenhagen we mustn’t be distracted by the behind-the-times, anti-science, flat-earth climate sceptics,” Brown told the Guardian. “We know the science. We know what we must do. We must now act and close the 5bn-tonne gap. That will seal the deal.”

According to the government adviser Sir Nicholas Stern, 10bn tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions must be taken out of the atmosphere by 2020. So far agreement is in place for only half of that amount.

Ed Miliband gave his most damning assessment of the sceptics yet, describing them as “dangerous and deceitful”.

He said: “The approach of the climate saboteurs is to misuse data and mislead people. The sceptics are playing politics with science in a dangerous and deceitful manner. There is no easy way out of tackling climate change despite what they would have us believe. The evidence is clear and the time we have to act is short. To abandon this process now would lead to misery and catastrophe for millions.”

Markey warned against allowing America’s political agenda to be hijacked by the email affair. “We can no longer allow our climate and energy policy to be hijacked by the government of Saudi Arabia, ExxonMobil, and the defenders of the fossil fuel status quo,” he said.

Even if an investigation into the university emails were to show evidence of wrongdoing, scientists and politicians say there is an overwhelming body of evidence that humans are causing climate change. However, the hacking affair is putting new obstacles in the way of getting a bill past Congress – seen as a crucial precondition for a binding climate change treaty.

The summit, which begins on Monday, aims to seal a global deal to control greenhouse gas emissions, but all of the significant issues remain to be resolved. There is still no agreement between developing nations and the richer countries over the carbon cuts required and the funding which must be given to poorer countries to help them cope with global warming.

China and India, whose economies are growing rapidly, must still agree a deal on curbing their emissions while being able to lift billions of people out of poverty.

The concern for some of those attempting to drive through a global deal is that the sceptics will delay critical decisions by casting doubt over the science at a time when momentum has been gathering towards a historic agreement. “The sceptics have clearly seized upon this as an incident that they can use to their own ends in trying to disrupt the Copenhagen agreements,” said Bob Watson, Defra chief scientist and former head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “If this slows down an international agreement to significantly reduce greenhouse gases, it will mean we’re committed to an even larger temperature change … with adverse consequences on agriculture, water, human security, human health and biodiversity.”

Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, said it would be disastrous for the planet if sceptics were able to undermine support for a climate change deal. “Ideological dinosaurs, whether in Saudi Arabia or in the Conservative party, who deny climate change must not be allowed to hide behind some leaked correspondence to support their outdated theories,” Clegg said.

A number of prominent Conservatives, including former chancellor Lord Lawson and former Cameron frontbencher David Davis, have pounced on the email furore. But tonight the shadow climate change secretary, Greg Clark, made clear the party line remains that climate change is a serious man-made threat. “Research into climate change has involved thousands of different scientists, pursuing many separate lines of independent inquiry over many years. The case for a global deal is still strong and in many aspects, such as the daily destruction of the Earth’s rainforests, desperately urgent,” he said.

Source - The Guardian

Solar panels grants closed due to unprecedented demand

Solar panels manufacturers have warned of their frustration after the government’s flagship grant scheme for solar panels ran out of money less than halfway through the financial year.

The UK PV Association, which represents companies making and installing solar panels, warned that they were “in limbo” after the Low Carbon Building Programme Phase 2 was closed to solar applications this week.

The £50m scheme had included up to £18m for hospitals, schools and other public sector buildings to install pv solar panels on their roofs. But it has been closed down due to unprecedented demand.

Meanwhile, an announcement has been delayed on a clean energy cashback scheme – called “feed-in tariffs” – which will let people sell renewable power back to the grid. The industry had expected the decision this month but now believes it has been delayed amid wrangling between the energy department and the Treasury.

“This leaves installation companies in limbo land, unable to plan their businesses and unsure of what advice to give customers,” said the association.

Andrew Lee from Sharp UK, which employs 600 staff making solar panels in Wrexham, said the industry would have to endure another “unnecessary hiatus in support”.

The news is awkward for the government, coming just days before international climate change talks open in Copenhagen. Britain gets less energy from renewables than almost any other EU country.

Green campaigners have complained about the way ministers have launched a succession of “piecemeal” renewable energy grants.

“Our members face ongoing uncertainties and yet another round of stop-start support,” said Ray Noble from the Renewable Energy Association.

This week the energy department announced it was closing the scheme to companies and public sector applicants – although Phase 1, which applies to households, is still open. The energy department is also still offering grants for large-scale wind, hydro and biomass projects but has introduced a waiting list.

Dave Sowden, chief executive of the Micropower Council, said the removal of the grants would put green jobs in jeopardy and undermine Britain’s credibility ahead of Copenhagen.

A spokeswoman for DECC said feed-in tariffs were on track to begin next April. “It’s very encouraging that there’s been an unprecedented demand for this technology but we have to be fair to all renewable technologies,” she said.

Source - The Financial Times

Climate change sceptics and lobbyists put world at risk

Climate skeptics and fossil fuel companies that have lobbied against action on greenhouse gas emissions have squandered the world’s chance to avoid dangerous global warming, a key adviser to the government has said.

Professor Bob Watson, chief scientist at the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs, said a decade of inaction on climate change meant it was now virtually impossible to limit global temperature rise to 2C. He said the delay meant the world would now do well to stabilise warming between 3C and 4C.

His comments come ahead of key UN negotiations on a new global climate treaty in Copenhagen next month that the UK government insists should still aim for a 2C goal, despite doubts over whether a meaningful deal can be sealed.

In an interview with the Guardian, Watson said: “Those that have opposed a deal on climate, which would include elements of the fossil fuel industry, have clearly made making a 2C target much, much harder, if not impossible. They’ve clearly put the world at risk of far more adverse effects of climate change.”

The decision of former US president George W Bush to walk away from the Kyoto protocol, the existing global treaty on carbon emissions, sent a message to other countries not to act, he said. “The last decade was a lost opportunity. Elements within the fossil fuel industry clearly had major implications for the Bush administration.”

He added: “I think they’ve clearly been partly to blame, without any question at all. But you have to say it is not just the fossil lobby. Within the US, there is not strong support for the Kyoto protocol in both parties. Even Obama now will have to persuade a still somewhat sceptical Senate that we should be doing this.”

The Copenhagen talks are not expected to deliver a legally binding treaty as originally hoped, but could still make progress on issues such as emissions cuts for rich countries and financial assistance for the developing world. A strong agreement rests on how far Obama is willing to push towards strong carbon cuts in the US.

European officials fear the agreement could eventually do no better than return emissions in 2020 to 1990 levels; scientists say they must fall by 25-40% to have a good chance of staying within the 2C limit.

Watson, a former head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said: “I think we will do well to stabilise between 3 and 4C. Even that is going to take strong political action to decarbonise the energy system and to require us peaking greenhouse gas emissions in the next 10 or more years,” he said. “We have to make sure we understand what it would mean to see 3-4C. How would we adapt our agriculture, our water resources, coastal protection and human health systems.”

A Guardian poll this year showed that almost nine out of 10 climate scientists thought the 2C target would be missed.

The British government last month published a map that laid out the stark details of a world warmer by 4C. It showed that the rise would not be evenly spread across the globe, with temperature rises much larger than 4C in high latitudes such as the Arctic. Because the sea warms more slowly, average land temperature will increase by 5.5C, which scientists said would shrink yields for all major cereal crops on all regions of production. A 4C rise would also have a major impact on water availability, with supplies limited to an extra billion people by 2080.

Source - The Guardian

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

New Jersey Completes 100 MW Of Solar Capacity

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has announced that New Jersey now has over 100 MW of solar capacity with more than 4,340 projects statewide. The ground-breaking achievement is the latest example of New Jersey's renewable energy leadership and commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"This monumental achievement only serves to further strengthen New Jersey's position as one of the fastest growing solar energy markets in the United States," said Governor Corzine. "Our leadership is credited to our commitment to environmentally responsible action and a competitive market-based initiative."

New Jersey's solar success is particularly remarkable for the rapid progress it has made in reaching the 100 MW milestone. Seven years ago, the state had only 6 solar installations. Since that time New Jersey has established a model program that incorporates both energy efficiency and renewable energy.

New Jersey's integrated approach to solar development includes a strong Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) with a solar electric set aside, excellent interconnection and net metering standards that have made it easier for systems to connect to the distribution system, a Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) financing model that provides energy credits and additional long term financing for those who invest in solar.

"As we strive to meet Governor Corzine's comprehensive Energy Master Plan goals, the NJBPU is continually looking to efficiently increase our renewable energy generation while reducing New Jersey's greenhouse gas emissions." said Jeanne M. Fox, President of the NJBPU.

"The innovative SREC financing model combined with federal tax credits and New Jersey's Renewable Energy Portfolio requirements provide the incentives needed to continue to spur New Jersey's solar growth."

New Jersey's Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) financing model is one of the State's newest initiatives to develop a vibrant solar market in the state. Representing all the clean energy benefits of electricity generated from a solar electric system, one SREC is issued for each 1,000 kWh (1MWh) generated.

SRECs are then sold or traded, separately from the power, providing solar system owners a source of revenue to help offset the cost of installation. In most cases, SRECs replace State rebates, which fueled solar growth in the early years of the State's solar program. New Jersey is the first government globally to adopt the use of SRECs to help finance solar projects on a broad scale.

The BPU also recently approved innovative financing programs at three of the State's electric utilities: Jersey Central Power and Light, Atlantic City Electric, and Rockland Electric Company. In addition, earlier this year the Board approved Public Service Electric and Gas's "Solar 4 All Program" to expand solar generation in its service territory. Under these programs, the State's electric utilities may enter into long-term contracts with customers for the purchase of SRECs, which facilitates long-term financing for solar projects.

Clean Energy Cashback will benefit early installers most

Most countries in the EU now use guaranteed price Feed-In Tariffs (FIT) to support renewable energy projects, with different prices being fixed for each type of technology.

The FITs have proved to be very effective at getting capacity installed rapidly at relatively low costs. For example, Germany has installed 25 Gigawatt (GW) of wind generation capacity so far under a FIT scheme , whereas the UK, with its competitive Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) trading scheme, has only achieved 4 GW, with some of that actually being supported by grants (for offshore projects). And this in a country with a far better wind regime than Germany.

With the UK committed to getting 15% of is total energy from renewables 2020, which means they would have to supply maybe 30% of its electricity, something had to be done. The UK governments remains wedded to the market-orientated ROC system, and it has made some changes to it – e.g. creating ‘technology bands’ with different numbers of ROCs for each type of technology. That may help to some extent – making it a bit more like a FIT. But the government eventually conceded that a fixed-price FIT system might be better for small-scale projects. There was some debate about how small ‘small’ should be, but a ceiling of 5MW was chosen- large enough to include some small community projects.

The governments proposals were for a fixed ‘Clean Energy Cashback’ payment from the electricity supplier for every kilowatt hour (kWh) generated (the “generation tariff”); i.e. for self-generated power you use, plus a guaranteed minimum payment additional to the generation tariff for every kWh exported to the wider electricity market (the “export tariff”). The export tariff will be market determined – it’s currently at £0.05/kWh, for electricity delivered to the grid. Proposed generation tariff levels were set at 36.5p/kWh for retrofitted PV solar systems up to 4kW; and 28p/kWh for systems up to 10kW, while wind projects would get 30p/kW for turbines below 1.5kW and progressively less for larger units, down to 4.5p/kWh for wind turbines between 500kW and 5MW. Hydro projects would get 4.5-17p/kWh depending on size. Anaerobic digestion and biomass were also eligible (getting up to 9p/kWh), so was AD fired combined heat and power (11p/kWh), but not landfill gas or sewage gas, which are deemed already commercially viable.

As with the German FIT, UK FIT prices will be reduced, or ‘degressed’, in annual stages to reflect expected reductions as the technology develops and the market for it builds. But only for some of the technologies. The annual degression was set at 7% for all solar PV projects, 4% for wind turbines below 1.5kW, 3% for those in the 15-50KW range. The rest would have no price degression.

Source - Environmental Research

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The future’s bright for home owners with solar panels?

The solar panels are cheaper than ever and you can sell your surplus energy to the grid. No wonder, the future’s bright for home owners solar panels.

Real, gutsy solar power is as rare as hen’s teeth in this country. By the real deal I mean photovoltaic (PV solar) systems that convert sunlight into electricity as opposed to rather prosaic solar thermal systems that heat water. Last year just 6MW of solar PV solar panels were installed in this country. Compare and contrast the situation in Germany, where more than 1,500MW was installed last year and one in 10 buildings has a solar power system.

This is ludicrous because solar PV could provide 30-40% of the UK’s total electricity needs by 2050, reducing CO2 emissions by 15% a year. An average domestic system (a fairly modest 1.8kWp PV system) can provide at least 25% of a household’s energy. The sticking point has been the expense.

Luckily there are sunnier days ahead. We’ve been waiting years for a Feed-in Tariff scheme (rebranded as the Clean Energy Cash Back Scheme), and now it is expected to arrive in April 2010. This will guarantee domestic PV installations 36.5 pence per kw hour of electricity they feed back into the grid, probably for around 25 years.

If plans go through, they’ll get just 36p for their surplus output and be able to enjoy the more generous tariff and possibly a grant (£10m is available until April 2010 via the governments grants programme in the form of £2,500 per households.

And you’ll be able to take advantage of the fact that solar panels have come down in price. According to Sharp, a UK-based solar-module manufacturer, units are 30% cheaper than a year ago. You can get different types to stick on or integrate into your roof, not just the traditional crystalline cells using reject silicon from the electronics industry. The new wave is full of efficient, sleek models. Some look uncannily like normal roof tiles. Thanks to a recession in Spain (a voracious PV consumer) there are lots around.

But in the solar rush, remember to purchase responsibly. PV solar cells are far from ecologically innocuous, as they contain a concoction of toxic conductors. They should be manufactured in a closed-loop system to high environmental standards.

They also remain the only renewable really attuned to normal life. You can add them on to a house without incurring the wrath of planning departments or undertaking huge civil engineering projects.

Source - The Guardian

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Energy Conversion Devices Announces Large Solar Project In Spain

Energy Conversion Devices has announced it has been selected by Recurrent Energy to deliver 4.8MWp of solar generating systems for eight separate building rooftops at ProLogis Park Sant Boi in Barcelona and ProLogis Park Alcala in Madrid, Spain.

ECD will be supplying its UNI-SOLAR photovoltaic (PV) laminates and providing development resources through its Solar Integrated subsidiary.

The solar power systems will be owned by Recurrent Energy, a distributed power company and a leading provider of solar energy, and installed on rooftops leased by Recurrent Energy from ProLogis, a leading global provider of distribution facilities. Construction on the project is expected to start in October 2009.

ProLogis, a leading global provider of distribution facilities, currently has UNI-SOLAR systems installed on facilities in the U.S., Spain and France.

"We are very pleased to continue our relationship with UNI-Solar and SIT through this project," said Drew Torbin, director of global renewable energy for ProLogis. "We look forward to working with the company closely over the next several months as we bring this project on line."

"This new agreement is the first example of the benefits of combining our leading UNI-SOLAR PV laminate product with the rooftop solar expertise of Solar Integrated. This project also demonstrates how we will work closely with Recurrent Energy and our key channel partners--in this case Soprema and its dedicated subsidiary Solardis--to provide innovative solutions that meet the needs of our customers and their roofs," said Mark Morelli, president and chief executive officer for ECD.

For this project, Solar Integrated will engineer, procure, and construct the solar PV systems totaling 4.8 megawatts for Recurrent Energy.

The PV systems will consist of UNI-SOLAR laminates combined with the SOPRASOLAR complex - a bituminous waterproofing system, and will be applied directly on the roofs. Installation will be done by Soprema's local installer Master Renovables.

Source - Solar Daily

Friday, 2 October 2009

Has China kick started the solar panel revolution

In recent years China, and in particular the capital Beijing, have become synonymous with heavy air pollution with carbon emissions a natural result of being the largest manufacturing base in the world.

The Olympic Games held in Beijing in 2008 highlighted to the world the problems that China is having with pollution in urban areas where population density and heavy road traffic has contributed to a situation where on some days visibility is severely reduced.

The televised images of the Beijing skyline obscured by a murky cloud of smog offered a grim reminder of the contamination which is of course an inevitable by-product of a rapidly industrialising economy. However, China has embraced the concept of renewable energy with a massive shift towards solar energy. Legislation introduced by the Chinese government has been designed to spark investment in renewable energies and has so far, proved to be successful.

As the largest manufacturer of photovoltaic (PV solar) components, China has been a market leader in developing new products for markets elsewhere. Certainly, the Spanish market which experienced its own boom following the introduction of a feed-in tariff in 2007 relied massively on Chinese PV imports with the market experiencing a glut of Chinese produced PV solar panels plant when the Spanish industry went through its downturn and failed to install the solar plant which had been ordered. However, in a bid to alleviate some pollution problems and help meet climate change targets, the Chinese government has recently sought to increase the number of solar installations within the country.

In order to do this the government introduced a feed-in tariff system. Essentially, the feed-in tariff (FIT) was designed to attract investment in the new solar industry by offering financial incentives to investors. The FIT mechanism operates on the basis that the law guarantees a fixed, premium rate for units of electricity fed-in to the grid by solar energy generators. The utility companies are obliged by the legislation to purchase the solar electricity at above market prices, the costs of which are passed on to the consumers. In China this mechanism which has been successful in areas such as Germany, Spain and California has also proved successful in China. In July 2009, the New York Times ran with the headline, “Green Power Takes Root in China” heralding the arrival of the Chinese PV market on the world stage.

The arrival of the Chinese PV solar industry has come in the form of a national renewable energy law which decrees that utilities must generate 8 per cent of their energy by renewable means by 2020. The fact that this 8 percent figure does not include hydroelectric power adds to the importance which the Chinese are now placing on green energy. The growing awareness of the lack of long-term sustainability in traditional coal energy sources has prompted the Chinese government to take action to maintain China has a major industrial power well in to the future. There has also been somewhat of a frenzy among private companies seeing the opportunities that will undoubtedly present themselves in the Chinese renewable industry, with a growing activity particularly in sectors such as wind and photovoltaic solar panels technology which will inevitably boom in China in the near future.

The New York Times was keen to use this Chinese government action to make comparisons with the comparatively weak efforts being made in Washington to spur the renewable sector in the United States. Indeed, in the United Kingdom, with the recent feed-in tariff legislation, members of the green energy industry will be hopeful that government action in the UK will have the same effect it has had on the Chinese market.

The New York Times asserted its almost neurotic view of Chinese renewable growth compared to that of the US by warning,

“You won’t just be buying your toys from China, you’ll be buying your energy future from China.”

China has a target in place to produce 8000 megawatts of energy by wind energy by 2010 which they are set to smash. If China continues apace to move towards solar energy, they will surely shame efforts currently being made in the West to develop their own sustainable renewable industries.

Source - Official Wire

An extra 10p to create a solar panel industry in UK

A higher tariff for green electricity generation would help the UK catch up with the rest of Europe.

An extra 10p on the level of the proposed tariff given to small-scale renewable energy producers would be enough to kick-start a solar power sector in the UK, say industry groups.

Earlier this summer the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) finally agreed to introduction of a long sought-after feed-in tariff (FIT) under which households and businesses will be paid an above-market rate for every unit of electricity they generate and feed back to the grid.

Feed-in tariffs have been identified as the key factor behind the success of solar energy in Germany. But UK campaigners for solar power worry that the planned Government tariff will be too low.

The campaign group We Support Solar, which includes Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and more than 270 MPs, says that increasing the tariff from around 30p per unit of electricity to around 40p would increase uptake six times over.

Now, construction groups, including the Federation of Master Builder (FMB) have predicted that the extra 10p on the proposed rates could result in 400,000 new solar PV installations on homes by 2014. The knock-on effect would be the creation of nearly 30,000 jobs in the solar power sector.

‘There is a lot of talk about the “green economy”. The construction industry have seen the huge potential of solar power. The feed-in-tariff is the chance to now drive investment in the sector,’ said Seb Berry of solar installation company, Solar Century.

The UK lags badly behind in the solar power stakes compared to other EU countries, where financial incentives have been in place for a number of years.

Germany, which introduced FITs 9 years ago, installed 250 times more solar photovoltaic panels than the UK in 2008.

Source - Ecologist

Solar panels review 2009

The solar thermal heating market is forecast to reach huge growth in the coming years as policy pushes renewable space and water heating up the agenda.
solar thermal heating,European Solar Thermal Industry Federation, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Austria, German Market,
In 2008, solar thermal heating and cooling solutions gained favour in more and more countries,’ says European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) president Olivier Drücke. ‘The solar thermal market in the EU and Switzerland grew by over 60% to 3.3 GWth of new capacity, that is 4.76 million m2 of collector area,’ he adds.

Indeed, the latest ESTIF annual statistics on European solar thermal markets show that while demand for solar thermal technologies increased strongly in Spain, Italy and France, the biggest push came from the German market, which more than doubled from 0.7 GWth to 1.5 GWth of newly installed capacity in 2008.

Demand for solar thermal technology also increased strongly in smaller markets, such as Ireland, Poland and Portugal. Meanwhile, Austria continues to lead the continental states, with a total operational capacity of 273 kWth per 1000 inhabitants. Furthermore, with 29 kWth per 1000 inhabitants, Austria’s newly installed capacity is (in per capita terms) more than high-potential countries such as Spain, Italy or France have installed over the past 20 years. It trails only world champion Cyprus, which reached an installed solar thermal capacity of 623 kWth per 1000 inhabitants at the end of 2008.

In the face of such impressive growth figures solar thermal is also becoming a significant economic stimulator. The European turnover in solar thermal products surpassed the €3 billion mark in 2008 and the industry now employs more than 40,000 people full-time. ‘Solar thermal is well anchored in today’s European markets,’ says Drücke, adding: ‘With oil prices rising again, we believe that our sector will continue to grow steadily and be less affected by the current economic turmoil.’

Although led by Europe in terms of technology development, in terms of volume, global solar thermal is to a large extent driven by China which is the biggest solar thermal market worldwide. Three out of four collectors are produced and installed in the People’s Republic. Its national market grew by a constant rate of 28% in recent years. The newly installed capacity in 2008 was approximately 21 GWth — 16 times greater than the European market as a whole.

Another promising market outside Europe is the United States. Still small but with a high potential for growth, as the statistics of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) show in their document: ‘US Solar Industry Year in Review 2008.’ According to this trade group, the US solar thermal market grew by 50% in 2008, reaching some 229,000 m² of collector area, or around 160 MWth.

Economic downturn aside, the prospects for any industry which can report such impressive growth statistics remain positive. Enabling this growth is a global supply chain that is becoming increasingly robust and established as capacity investment ramps up to meet enpanding demand.

The big flat plate collector manufacturers in Europe are well prepared for the boom. These manufacturers have all increased their production capacities considerably over the last year [to July 2009].

Flat Plate Collectors

A significant player in the flat-plate solar thermal supply chain is metals group Luvata, which supplies copper and aluminum tubing as well as producing, for example, a specialized copper strip for solar thermal applications. Formerly known as Outokumpu Copper Products and acquired from Outokumpu OYJ in 2005 by Nordic Capital, Luvata employs over 6300 staff in 19 countries. The company has been busy over recent years building its position in the heating products market with a series of acquisitions.

As the shift towards a low-carbon energy sector steadily gathers momentum, it appears that a transformation of the energy market is inevitable. Growing concerns over security of energy supplies, price volatility in fossil-fuel markets, and the threat of climate change are accelerating this transformative process. It seems that, despite years of neglecting the solar thermal sector, policy-makers are finally getting the message that solar thermal has a great deal to offer in respect of all of these issues.

Indeed, as a highly efficient renewable energy source for heating and cooling — an area that corresponds to more than 45% of the global need for energy — among the renewable energy sources available, solar thermal energy has perhaps the greatest potential of all to transform the global energy market.

Certainly as a market, the solar thermal sector is displaying admirable growth, particularly so in the face of the on-going economic downturn, matched with a 60% market increase in Europe in 2008 for example. Recognizing this groundswell, many of the leading manufacturers are already ramping up production capacity and looking to expand into previously untapped regional markets in anticipation of further growth.

Those in the market for a solar thermal installation apparently benefit from a broad range of technologies, manufacturers and installers, indicating that the roots of a competitive market likely to engender further product innovation are already well established. With the giants of the industry standing at the ready, eager to deliver, perhaps it is at last time for the sleeping giant of renewables to wake up the world.

Some good ideas take a while to be copied. This is the case with solar building codes, which were invented in Israel 29 years ago. It was back in 1980 when the Israeli government implemented a law which made solar water heaters mandatory in new buildings up to 27 metres high such as residential housing, hotels, guest houses and care homes.

It turned out to be a success. Nowadays, more than 80% of the households in Israel obtain their domestic hot water from solar rooftop heaters.

This success is about to be copied by many more countries in the world — among them important solar thermal markets such as China, Germany, Spain, Australia and India. Within the last two to three years, this political instrument has reached all five continents. It will become — where correctly implemented — an important long-term driver of the global solar thermal market.

But there is a second factor that is pushing the international solar thermal markets in a sustainable direction. It is the urgency of saving electricity in many countries. Politicians have understood that solar thermal technology can play a crucial role in reducing national peak loads and avoiding electricity gaps on the national level. The Australian government is leading the way by prohibiting electric water heaters initially in new construction buildings, and most probably refurbished buildings will also follow. This opens the door for the greenhouse gas emission free production of hot water and space heating by the sun.

Source - Renewable Energy World

Will local authorities introduce solar panels

The government’s proposed “clean energy cash back” scheme (or feed in tariff) when introduced, will guarantee a set price for every unit of green electricity generated for 25 years. If all housing association properties had a solar photovoltaic (PV) system, which can generate 2,100 units of electricity a year, they could earn an income of around £20 thousand per home over 25 years.

The scheme would also pass on thousands of pounds of electricity savings to tenants – many of whom are suffering from fuel poverty.

Faced with a shortfall of £260 million due to the government’s recent decision to cut social housing rent in 2010, some housing providers are taking advantage of the financial benefits that investing in solar power brings. As well as a much needed income boost for the organisations, solar power helps low-income families cope with the financial hardship caused by rising fuel prices.

Brent Housing Partnership (BHP) is an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) working with Solarcentury, a UK solar energy company, to generate a guaranteed income from clean electricity. Solarcentury has begun to install solar electric roof tiles, designed to suit the majority of housing associations at a low cost, on over 80 existing homes on the Brentfield Estate in Brent. This will provide residents with approximately a third of the electricity they need for free – a saving of £120 every year.

Shaun Gillam, Senior Project Manager, Brent Housing Partnership said: “Solar power is a great way of investing in the future for our tenants. It is a way for us to reduce our residents’ expenditure on energy and meet energy efficiency targets whilst making a profit at the same time. With over 13000 BHP homes in Brent, we’re able to make a real difference to the quality of our tenants’ lives.”

Housing providers own an estimated 2.4 million homes across the UK. Many of these tenants live in fuel poverty, spending more than 10 per cent of their household income on heating and powering their homes

Town & Country Housing Group, in Kent, is another housing provider helping their tenants out of fuel poverty with solar PV.

Paul White, Innovation, Design & Quality Manager said: “Solar power is already playing a key role in the greening of our estates, 160 of our households have solar so far. It is reducing tenants’ electricity bills and helping us to deliver low energy homes that are affordable, functional and easy to live in.”

According to campaign group National Energy Action, more than five million households across the country are affected by fuel poverty.

A typical size solar PV system for a household is a 2.5kWp system and costs an average £12,500. On average, this system will generate 2,125 units (kilowatt hours (kWh)) of electricity a year. The Energy Saving Trust says this will produce about 50% of the electricity a household uses in a year.

This size of system will result in bill savings of £245 a year based on the average cost of electricity at 13p per unit and 50% electricity generated used. The income received from exporting 50% is £50 per year, with total generation annual income an additional £730 for 25 years with the feed-in tariff scheme.

Each property in the Brent scheme will produce 1,062 kWh a year – approximately one third of their electricity, saving approximately £120 each year for the tenant. This income figure is based on the system generating the number of units stated above and applying the government’s proposed generation tariff of 36.5p per unit generated. The figure also assumes that on average tenants will consume 50% of the solar electricity in the property and export the remainder and it assumes a top up payment of 5p for each unit exported and energy savings of 13p per unit.

Source - Green Building Press

Sunday, 13 September 2009

West vs. China in solar war

Europe's solar energy industry is facing a wave of bankruptcies because Asian companies offer their products much cheaper.

Several German producers of solar cells, panels and modules, including large market-leading companies, have reported massive first-half losses.

Q-Cells, one of the world's largest makers of solar cells, said it would cut 500 jobs, nearly a fifth of its workforce, to ensure its survival after it reported a first-half loss of $69 million before interest and tax. The sales of Conergy, Germany's second-biggest solar firm by revenue, were slashed in half in the first half of 2009 compared with a year earlier. Solarworld sales dropped 6 percent to $585 million in the first half, the company said in July.

Shares of those three companies dropped between 40 percent and 80 percent. "A large part of the German solar cell and solar module manufacturers will not survive," UBS analyst Patrick Hummel told the Financial Times Germany newspaper.

Thanks to a lucrative government-imposed feed-in-tariff, Germany has developed into the world's biggest solar energy market. But Asian giants, including China's Suntech Power, Yingli Solar and Trina Solar, are flooding the market with high-quality solar panels that they sell for 20 percent to 30 percent cheaper.

Conergy and Solarworld officials have accused the Chinese producers of price dumping and have called on Western governments to protect the European solar industry. According to newspaper reports, U.S. companies share that concern.

The Germans say Beijing is helping its companies with interest-free loans from state banks and by blocking foreign companies' access to China's quickly growing domestic renewable energy market. This should be answered with an EU import tariff for solar energy products from China, Conergy and Solarworld officials have demanded.

But economic experts have said protectionist measures could hurt the entire industry in the long run.

Meanwhile, German solar energy companies
are pursuing two strategies to escape the economic downward spiral: Several firms have already set up or are planning production facilities in Asia to slash costs. At home, they are investing in huge solar power plants to make money with the feed-in-tariff stipulated by Germany's renewable energy law EEG.

And finally, all major industry players hope for the U.S. and Chinese markets to drive global demand for solar power systems to an extent that all companies can benefit from.

Source - Solar Daily

China plans world's largest solar plant

The world's largest solar plant is planned for the Mongolian desert of China.

Arizona-based First Solar Inc. and Ordos City in China signed an agreement Tuesday to build what will be a 2-gigawatt solar installation.

The Ordos City project will generate 2,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 3 million Chinese homes, with a field of panels stretching for 25 square miles.

It will start as a 30-megawatt demonstration unit with construction beginning in June 2010 and additional phases to come online in 2014 and 2019.

"This major commitment to solar power is a direct result of the progressive energy policies being adopted in China to create a sustainable, long-term market for solar and a low carbon future for China," First Solar chief executive officer Mike Ahearn said in a news release. "It represents an encouraging step forward toward the mass-scale deployment of solar power worldwide to help mitigate climate change concerns."

China announced in July that its renewable energy is expected to represent 10 percent of the country's energy resources by 2010 and 15 percent by 2020.

While financial terms of the deal have not yet been reached, First Solar will operate the plant under China's feed-in tariff, which guarantees prices paid for renewable power.

"This type of forward-looking government policy is necessary to create a strong solar market and facilitate the construction of a project of this size, which in turn continues to drive the cost of solar electricity closer to 'grid parity' -- where it is competitive with traditional energy sources," First Solar said in the release.

Ahearn said that in the United States, a solar plant of this size would cost $5 billion to $6 billion, but it is cheaper to build in China. He did not specify the cost of the Ordos City project.

The project is part of an 11,950-megawatt renewable-energy park planned for Ordos City in Inner Mongolia.

Plans for the park include wind farms to generate 6,950 megawatts, photovoltaic power plants to provide 3,900 megawatts and solar thermal farms to supply 720 megawatts, The New York Times reports.

Noting that China is home to Suntech, the world's third-largest solar module maker, it is "quite significant" that China is "importing a U.S. world leader to the marketplace," said Nathaniel Bullard, a solar analyst at London-based New Energy Finance, the Times reports. "This is going to help ensure technological leadership and not just manufacturing leadership."

China is the world's largest consumer of coal, which accounts for nearly 80 percent of the country's electricity generation.

Statistics from the China Renewable Energy Society suggest that at least two-thirds of China gets more than 2,200 hours of sunshine per year, making China's potential solar energy resources equivalent to 1.7 trillion tons of coal.

Source - Solar Daily

Solar panels are the new designer kitchen

Investing in solar panels or a wind turbine could add to the resale value of a property and could be as attractive to house hunters as a new kitchen or solid wood floors.

When arriving at a market value for a property, there are a variety of factors that can add value to a home. Improvements such as a conservatory or designer kitchen, can convince a purchaser to pay more for a home.

However, with an ever increasing emphasis on the environment, it would appear that buyers are willing to pay a premium for a house that has a renewable energy source.

The Energy Saving Trust has just released the results of a poll that they commissioned recently. Over a third (35 per cent) of those polled said they would be prepared to pay more for a home where some of their energy supply came from renewable resources such as wind, solar or hydro-power.

Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said: “It seems Britons are willing to pay more for a home with a renewable energy source so investing in a solar panel or a wind turbine could add to the resale value of a property and could be as attractive to house hunters as a new kitchen or solid wood floors.”

The term ‘feed in tariff’ is a direct translation from German. In Germany, the state has for several years encouraged the development of renewable energy sources such as anaerobic digestion plants, by paying the producer a premium per KwH for power generated from renewable sources. This has been a very successful model and is now being copied in the UK.

The poll also indicated that over half (53 per cent) of those polled were put off from installing a domestic renewable energy source by the high initial cost. The Energy Saving Trust can suggest grants that are available for certain green technologies. They feature case studies of people who are acting as “Green Ambassadors” by installing renewable energy sources in their homes.

An analogous situation would be vehicles converted to run on liquid petroleum gas (LPG). This is not only more environmentally friendly but actually costs less than half the price of petrol. Logically, any such vehicle should command a premium price over an identical petrol car. The reality is that neither an insurance company nor a retail purchaser will pay a penny more for an LPG vehicle over and above its petrol driven equivalent.

The research was done across 2696 adults in the UK in March this year. Unfortunately, like most polling exercises, it is deeply flawed. Asking respondents if they would be willing to pay more for a green home is one thing and many people will answer “yes” and bask in the warm, fuzzy glow of “helping the environment”.

Source - Property Confidential

People pay more for a house with solar panels

A survey of 2,700 UK adults, which “found that half of respondents are interested in finding out whether their home is suitable for renewable energy systems, such as solar panels”.

Meanwhile, over a third said they would be willing to pay more for a house where some of the energy was supplied by renewable sources, suggesting that those investing in microgeneration systems will be able to recoup some of the cost through increased house prices.

The same should apply in this country, especially since a lot Americans understand energy prices are going up whether or not there is a climate bill. The point is that as peak oil kicks in and the reality of human-caused climate change becomes painfully clear, energy efficiency, geothermal heat pumps, solar panels and the like will increasingly be seen as a desirable if not essential elements of a home, like an up-to-date kitchen, rather than just a “cost.”

The story on the from the Energy Saving Trust survey continues:

Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said that the findings were good news for the UK’s emerging onsite renewables sector. “It seems Britons are willing to pay more for a home with a renewable energy source so investing in a solar panel or a wind turbine could add to the resale value of a property and be as attractive to house hunters as a new kitchen or solid wood floors,” he said.
The survey also confirmed that the high upfront cost of renewable energy systems — the cheapest solar energy systems cost over £3,000 and most technologies take anything between five and 25 years to deliver a return on investment — remains the main barrier to adoption.

Hence the need for maintaining tax credits, until we have a price for CO2 that represents its full damage cost.

Source - WorldChanging

Call to remove VAT for solar panels

In the UK, VAT should be removed entirely from energy-efficient household appliances and a car industry-style scrappage scheme introduced to encourage upgrades to greener products, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said today.

The retail lobby group called on the chancellor to revisit prime minister Gordon Brown’s high-profile proposals for a cut in VAT on green goods, which were set out in 2007 only to be subsequently sidelined by the government.

In a letter to Alistair Darling, the BRC said “a clear signal should be given to households of the benefits of a switch to the most energy-efficient products”.

It added that incentives should include zero VAT ratings for the most energy-efficient products and the introduction of “time-limited scrappage schemes for those buying ‘Energy Saving Recommended’ products”.

Household appliances are responsible for a quarter of all energy use in the home and households are responsible for more than 15 per cent of all UK greenhouse gas emissions, according to figures from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

Economic modelling for the BRC by the Centre for Economics and Business Research shows that CO2 emissions could be reduced by 1.3 million tonnes each year – almost one per cent of domestic emissions – by 2020 if VAT were removed from today’s most energy-efficient equipment.

The BRC added that even deeper cuts could be achieved as any move to scrap VAT for green products would encourage manufacturers to further improve the energy efficiency of products as they compete to attain the “Energy Saving Recommended” performance standard that would qualify them for zero VAT.

The lobby group said the changes would cost the government £507m per year in lost VAT receipts, but it added that this was equal to the cost of a little more than two weeks of the across-the-board VAT reduction that was introduced last December.

Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium director general, said the government was guilty of “working against its own objectives when it sets targets for reducing carbon emissions while charging full VAT on the efficient products that will move us towards those targets”.

In his last budget as chancellor in 2007, Gordon Brown said he would write to the European Commission and EU member states urging them to cut VAT rates on the most energy-efficient electrical goods to just five per cent.

Last year, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee warned that the plans had stalled and urged further action, arguing that the introduction of lower VAT rates for greener goods would encourage consumers to make more responsible purchasing decisions.

However, the government said that under EU trade rules it was unable to axe VAT on specific products without the agreement of all member states. Despite support from a number of states, the EU Commission has so far failed to secure the required backing for the proposals and as a result, energy-efficient products are still subject to the full standard VAT rate, which is due to return to 17.5 per cent from 1 January 2010.

The Treasury declined to comment on how efforts were progressing to gain agreement on an EU-wide VAT cut for efficient appliances.

Source - Green Business

Double incentives for PV solar panels

For 6 months only the incentives of installing PV solar panels have been doubled, but this will only last until April 2010.

Previously domestic PV (Photovoltaic) installations were rewarded by a £2,500 government grant, but with a new reward scheme on the horizon, UK householders only have 6 months to claim this grant. After April next year the grant will be replaced by a feed-in tariff incentive which will increase from the current 10p kWh produced to an anticipated 36p per Kwh.

The current £2,500 grants are still available and once installed you will still be able to receive the new incentive scheme next year. Stuart Lovatt of Heat my Home says “This gives householders an unpresidented opportunity to receive both incentives which will never be repeated again.”

Germany with a similar climate to Britain and Australia have been running this type of reward scheme for the last 10 years with great success in the uptake of PV solar panels with the USA following this lead too. The UK’s history of solar grants have been dubious in the past, but with the urgency and need for the UK to relieve it’s dependence on imported energy and reduce global warming impact has brought this welcomed change of policy.

Solar panels including water heating solar have become more and more popular over the last 2 years because UK householders are increasingly becoming aware of the big issue’s our country has with energy price rises which is only going to get worse over time.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Germany: Lots of solar, too much CO2

Germany last week unveiled the world's second-largest solar power plant amid reports that the country won't reach its ambitious CO2-emissions reduction targets.

The giant solar power plant in Brandenburg is made up of 700,000 shiny photovoltaic modules that cover an area of roughly 210 soccer fields. Located on Soviet-era military training grounds, the 53-MW plant can produce power for an estimated 15,000 households. It is topped globally only by a 60-MW plant in southern Spain. America has a hand in this: Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar operates the plant together with a German project developer. The consortium has invested more than $200 million.

Local officials hailed the plant as a further milestone in the positioning of Brandenburg as a renewable-energy champion. The eastern German state, once heavily reliant on dirty coal, today banks on the solar, wind and biomass industries to drive down its carbon dioxide emissions and boost job growth.

Some 40 percent of the electricity consumed in Brandenburg comes from renewable sources, and numerous top-notch wind, solar, biomass and biofuel companies have settled here, including First Solar, Conergy and Danish wind turbine maker Vestas.

Brandenburg is a neat example how to "green" a fossil-fuel-based economy. Germany has not yet succeeded in doing so on a larger scale -- while the country is among the world's top nations when it comes to installed renewable capacity, it also has an energy-intense industry that consumes a lot of natural resources.

That's one reason why Germany won't reach its ambitious targets to reduce emissions until 2020 by 40 percent compared with 1990 levels, according to a new study.

Only a 30-percent reduction is achievable, according to the study compiled by consultant EUTech for Greenpeace, Der Spiegel reports in its latest issue.

The German government's climate-protection plan, adopted in 2007, has been watered down because of industry lobbying, the magazine writes. Several energy-efficiency and CO2-reduction measures were not realized because of opposition from large companies. Moreover, the study cites the delay of offshore wind farm construction as one reason why the ambitious targets likely won't be reached.

In a bid to drive down emissions and reduce its dependency on oil imports, Germany just unveiled a strategy to make the country a world leader in sustainable mobility and have 1 million electric cars cruise its Autobahn highways by 2020.

"In 2030, this could be over 5 million. By 2050, traffic in towns and cities could be predominantly without fossil fuels," the National Electric Mobility Plan reads.

Source - Solardaily

China's solar making gains in West

Chinese solar industry companies have already played a major role in lowering the cost of solar panels by almost half over the last year, The New York Times reports.

In an effort to boost market share, China's largest solar panel manufacturer, Suntech, is selling solar panels in the United States at below the cost of materials, assembly and shipping, Shi Zhengrong, the company's chief executive and founder, told the Times.

Solar companies in the West, meanwhile, are facing a tough time competing with their Chinese counterparts, which benefit from lower operating costs and government support.

Last week Germany's Q-Cells announced plans to lay off 500 of its 2,600 employees because of declining sales. Behind Tempe, Ariz.-based industry leader First Solar, Suntech is now on course to surpass Q-Cells as the world's second-largest supplier of photovoltaic cells this year.

Domestically, China's solar companies have been on the receiving end of generous subsidies from their Chinese national, provincial and local governments since March. Incentives include land for operations and funds for research and development as well as low-rate loans from state-owned banks. Electricity and labor costs are low as well, with fresh engineering graduates earning around $7,000 a year.

China's solar companies are also receiving "lavish" government support, the Times reports, to build assembly plants in the United States. In so doing, they bypass U.S. protectionist legislation. Even with the $2.3 billion tax credit program to manufacturers of clean energy equipment announced by the U.S. departments of Energy and Treasury this month, the American solar industry will also have to compete with their Chinese counterparts stateside.

Suntech plans to announce within the next two months its plans to build a $30 million solar panel assembly plant in Phoenix or somewhere in Texas. "It'll be to facilitate sales -- 'buy American' and things like that," Steven Chan, the company's president for global sales and marketing, told the Times.

About 90 percent of the plant's 75 to 150 workers will be blue-collar laborers, welding together panels from solar wafers made in China.

Last week China's Yingli Solar also announced a "preliminary plan" to assemble panels in the United States.

To avoid U.S. opposition to solar imports, Chinese solar companies are encouraging their U.S. executives to join industry trade groups, as Japanese automakers did when setting up U.S. operations decades ago.

"I don't see Europe or the United States becoming major producers of solar products -- they'll be consumers," said Thomas M. Zarrella, chief executive of Merrimack, N.H.-based GT Solar International, a company that sells specialized factory equipment to solar panel makers worldwide, the Times reports.

Source - Solar Daily

The UK government hates solar panels

Politicians, like the rest of us, are always being urged to “think big”. But, for me, the most interesting issue over the next week or so is going to be rather different: is Ed Miliband big enough to think small?

The question arises because our precocious young Energy and Climate Change Secretary is about to publish plans for a tenfold increase in renewable energy in Britain in little over a decade. The strategy will show whether Mr Miliband has more faith in the British people or in (and I fully realise that this is saying something) possibly the most incompetent and obscurantist collection of civil servants in Whitehall.

Let me explain. For decades, Britain has generated its energy from big installations: whopping great fossil fuel power stations that belch out carbon dioxide to add to global warming; mammoth nuclear power stations with a shocking record of construction delays and cost overruns; oversized wind farms, sometimes plonked down in wholly inappropriate places.

But it’s becoming clear that an excellent way to generate renewable energy is on a small – even household – scale, through rooftop solar panels. Despite the initial cost, the “fuel” is distributed free by nature, without the need for long pipes or power lines, and costs little or nothing to tap once the installation has been paid for. Families gain greater independence, and possibly some income from selling the surplus to the grid.
Last year, a report backed by Lord Mandelson’s Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (as was) concluded that, with proper encouragement, nine million British homes could be using such “microgeneration” by 2020, producing the same amount of electricity as five nuclear power stations. After just another decade, it went on, this could prevent the emission of as much carbon dioxide as taking all of the country’s buses and lorries off the road.

Sounds great? Not to the official ear. Civil servants in successive energy departments have always hated the idea of microgeneration, and done all they could to stifle it.

And why? Because it means someone else – worse, millions of someone elses – make decisions instead of them. And, as every mandarin believes, the man from Whitehall knows best.

In fact, as Daily Telegraph readers know, the man – and (let’s not be sexist) the woman – from Whitehall usually knows worst. After all, these people who trust you so little are the same bunch of dunderheads who pressed unrelentingly for the building of the mixed-oxide nuclear plant at Sellafield.

This white dinosaur, which has cost the taxpayer £1 billion, was supposed to produce 120 tons of nuclear fuel a year, but managed only a total of 6.3 tonnes between its opening in 2001 and April this year. (But never mind – there are proposals to build another one to make up for it.)

There might conceivably be some excuse for all this arrogance, if ordinary people took irrational, random decisions. But, of course, they don’t.

Other countries have easily devised measures that have ensured a rapid expansion of microgeneration. Germany guarantees generous “feed-in tariffs” for selling home-generated solar electricity to the grid; as a result, in 2007, 130,000 solar roofs were installed, compared with 270 in Britain.

Even in Bangladesh, more than 200,000 poor families have installed solar cells with the help of microcredit loans, bringing power to their villages for the first time and making money by selling it to their neighbours.
British ministers condemned Germany’s successful scheme as “a regulatory nightmare”. Instead, they reluctantly offered families grants to help towards the cost of installation – slashing them back to below incentive levels as soon as they started to be taken up. But now, in a U-turn, Mr Miliband is poised to introduce feed-in tariffs.

Will they be good and generous enough to work? Not, I’ll bet, if the officials can help it: they could well scupper microgeneration again.

A Tory minister would not let them do it: David Cameron understands the importance of this, and the self-reliance and individual initiative it encourages fits in well with his party’s values. But does perhaps the most promising Labour politician of the same generation get it, too? We’ll soon know.

Renewable energy is just the job

Is this an encouraging straw in a chill wind? In the South West, it seems, green firms and jobs are growing “at a dramatic rate”.

A new report – snappily entitled the Economic Contribution of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Sectors in the South West of England – surveyed 100 firms and found that their turnover had almost doubled over the last, recession-hit year, with the number of staff increasing by 40 per cent.

South Korea this week announced that it planned to create 1.8 million jobs over the next five years by developing solar power, hybrid cars and energy-efficient lighting. Barack Obama has promised to provide work for five million by investing in renewable energy, while David Cameron says: “Decarbonising Britain will help create hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

But will it work? Environmentalists brandish studies, like one from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that concludes that investing in green technologies employs nearly four times as many people as traditional investment. Sceptics repeatedly refer to a Spanish report that says that 2.2 jobs are lost for every new green one created.

In truth, no one knows. But green measures, like insulating buildings, are often particularly labour-intensive.
Renewable energy seems to provide at least three times as much work per dollar (or pound) as fossil fuels; recycling rubbish employs 10 times as many people as dumping it. So we may soon have a new term: “green-collar jobs”.

Green day? More like dirty brown
Sacré vert! Yesterday, as you may have noticed, was Green Britain Day. Except that it was actually organised by a nationalised French company, which boasts of being “one of the largest participants in the global coal market”.

The day aimed to urge us to “start living low-carbon lives” and to “start making changes” to “be part of a movement to reduce Britain’s carbon footprint”. Yet EDF proudly reports that it “imports around 30 million tons of physical coal a year”.

I don’t know if there is a French word for “greenwash”, but the firm might care to look it up.
Just to add injury to insult, EDF’s logo for the day – a green Union flag – is remarkably similar to one used by a genuinely green energy company, Ecotricity. Dale Vince, its chief executive, says he asked the French company to stop using it.

As a result, he received a phone call from an Andrew Brown, followed the same day by a message from a lawyer saying it would cost £6 million to do so. So he’s now taking the French giant to court.
Andrew Brown? Doesn’t that ring a bell? Yes, it’s the Prime Minister’s brother – the First Sibling, we might call him – who just happens to be EDF’s PR chief.

So here’s an idea for the company. Why doesn’t it “start making changes now” by getting out of coal, the world’s dirtiest fuel?

Otherwise, it could try colouring the flag Brown.

Source - Telegraph

Save money over the long term with solar panels

Right now many UK homeowners are under the impression that the UK simply does not get enough sunshine for solar panels to be effective. However, new reports have shown that this is wrong. According to solar panel advisors, solar panels actually do not run off “sunlight” but off solar radiation.

Heat my Home, the renewable energy advisor, has now explained to many UK homeowners that solar panels will help them with their energy bills. This is due to the fact that solar panels do not need sun rays to produce energy but solar radiation.

Stuart Lovatt, from Heat my Home, goes on say that one of the most unique selling points of solar panels is their longevity. Solar panels are not things that are suppose to last just a few years. Stuart points out that a good quality system could last the average household 30 years easily. Thus, the long term benefits of buying solar panels is very easy to see.

Lovatt also points out that there are not many things that people can buy nowadays that have a 30-year life span. Thus, solar panels, due to their long lifespan, are a perfect investment for people who are thinking along the lines of retirement.

Current reports show that Germany is one of the biggest installers of solar panels in all of Europe. Not only that, but Germany has a very similar climate to that of the UK. Both areas receive about 60 percent of the solar radiation levels that the equator does.

Solar panels use to be more orientated toward people who wanted to go green. Now these are systems that are also orientated to people who want to save money over the long run by cutting down on their energy bills.

Source - Electric

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Australia targets 20 percent renewable energy by 2020

Australia's government will ask the Senate Tuesday to approve plans to produce 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020 after the house rejected a proposed carbon trading scheme.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's centre-left Labour government passed the ambitious proposal to use green power to generate a fifth of the country's electricity in parliament's lower house late Monday.

But it faces a potential hurdle in the Senate, where independents hold the balance of power and can scupper the government's bid to have the renewables target in place before UN climate talks in Copenhagen in December.

The conservative opposition joined forces with the Greens and independent senators last week to reject an emissions trading scheme aimed at cutting carbon pollution by five to 25 percent over the next decade.

However, Greens senator Christine Milne indicated the renewables target would receive a warmer reception than the emissions scheme because it was the best option being put forward by the government.

"There's no way we're going to jeopardise it," she told public broadcaster ABC.

The renewables target, which works by forcing electricity companies to buy a portion of their power from renewable sources, will be submitted to the Senate on Tuesday and is expected to be voted on later this week.

The government originally bundled the emissions scheme and renewables target together in the same legislative package but was forced to separate them after its defeat in the Senate last week.

Rudd warned late Monday that the Senate risked damaging the economy if it rejected the emissions trading scheme again when it is re-submitted to the upper house in November.

"We'll be denying Australia a whole new set of economic opportunities for the future," Rudd told a business forum.

"We'll be also inviting the possibility of punitive tariffs being imposed on this economy in the future by other economies which join the cap-and-trade system of the future."

Source - Solar Daily

The rising costs of the UK’s green energy revolution

The UK government’s July energy white paper seeks to set out the criteria needed to meet the country’s ambitious green house gas reduction targets. The additional investment in green technology has been hailed as a revolution, but even the considerable economic cost is outweighed by the social cost, with more households facing fuel poverty as consumers’ energy bills will fund the proposed schemes.

The UK government’s Renewable Energy Strategy, which aims to increase the level of renewable generation in the country from 5.5% to 30% by 2020, has an associated cost of GBP4 billion each year. This amounts to between GBP57 billion and GBP70 billion over the lifetime of the scheme, with associated benefits from this outlay expected to be at most GBP5 billion over the same period.

The burden of recovering the remaining projected GBP65 billion cost will fall on domestic consumers and small businesses, with the reported additional cost being GBP249 per household, an increase on the average household energy bill of around 20%.

There are just under 25 million households in the UK, and four million of them are reportedly already in fuel poverty, which is classified as when a household spends in excess of 10% of disposable income on heating the home to an adequate level. A further increase in energy bills will undoubtedly see more households forced into fuel poverty. Even with schemes in place to mitigate the growth in the fuel bills of the fuel poor through energy efficiency savings, higher bills are inevitable and the social consequences are significant, with help not always available for those who need it most.

While the economic penalties are clear to see, the benefits of the renewable strategy are less tangible. The term green industrial revolution is widely touted but this will be a significant investment with little in the way of increased output. Fundamentally, regardless of the source, the power obtained from a plug socket will be the same. There will be no step-change increase in industrial output to help fund the investments, as was the case during the industrial revolution.

That is not to say that the government’s ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is unwise or unnecessary. However, the best of intentions do not resolve the fact that households and small businesses that are already struggling in difficult economic times will be further burdened by the need to pay for the proposed schemes. The ability of renewable sources to provide unsubsidized energy at a competitive price is questionable and alternatives are available. Efficiency improvements in combined cycle gas turbines would certainly offer a lower level of emissions than existing generations, at a fraction of the cost of a heavily renewable portfolio.

Source - Istockanalyst

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Trina Solar Records Excellent Results At Desert Knowledge Solar Centre

Trina Solar has announced that its monocrystalline modules recorded one of the highest average outputs in terms of actual electricity generated at Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre ("Desert Knowledge") in Alice Springs, Australia.

Based on independent and ongoing test data collected by Desert Knowledge at its demonstration site from December 1, 2008 to July 31, 2009, the Company's modules consistently held the top two position compared to modules from several leading European, Japanese, and American brands under the harsh Australia desert environment.

Performance comparison was made based on similar system size operating at full capacity and fixed ground mount installation.

Combining high performance with superior value, Trina Solar is dedicated to reducing the cost of solar provided electricity to accelerate the adoption of clean and efficient energy technologies.

Desert Knowledge is a 3.1 million Australian Dollars public initiative that showcases and demonstrates a range of solar power technologies in commercial-scale installations.

This is the first organization in Australia to publicly showcase a broad range of large scale solar installations.

Approximately fourteen different manufacturers and suppliers were chosen to demonstrate their technologies at Desert Knowledge's site.

Source - Solar Daily

Clean energy cash-back scheme for solar panels

Households which contribute electricity from renewable sources to the UK National Grid are to receive payments under a new government feed-in tariff scheme, labelled the “Clean Energy Cash-back Scheme”.

Back in 2008 the UK Government outlined policies in “The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, National strategy for climate and energy” White Paper designed to significantly reduce carbon emissions in the country by 35% by 2020 and by at least 80% by 2050. Now, as part of its recently released Renewable Energy Strategy designed to contribute to achieving these targets, the Secretary of State of Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband, has announced that a feed-in tariff rate will be introduced in the UK for suppliers of renewable energy who feed energy back into the grid.

The Clean Energy Cash-back Scheme is a more user-friendly term for feed-in tariffs (FITs), which other countries such as Germany have used so successfully to promote small as well as large-scale renewable energy production over the last decade. The UK Government’s decision to introduce FITs is intended to simplify the incentives for using renewable energy sources, since the current system – the Renewable Obligation (RO) – is a very lengthy and complex system designed for energy professionals who generate electricity on a large scale (50kW+). The Clean Energy Cash-back Scheme has therefore been designed to benefit micro-generators (households, communities and businesses with installations of up to 50kW), while larger installations of 50kW-5MW will be offered the choice of either the FIT or the RO scheme.

In a recent media interview, Mr Miliband told the BBC that the plan to give payments to households for contributing electricity to the National Grid will mean “we can harness people’s enthusiasm for getting involved” in tackling climate change and that “individuals and communities can both play their part in the kind of clean energy revolution that we need.”

The planned FITs will vary from one type of renewable to another, although exact rates still have to be agreed and implemented. Climate change minister, Joan Ruddock, has confirmed that the new scheme will come into effect from April 2010 for most renewable sources, but has warned that plans for a similar renewable heat incentive scheme for technologies such as solar and biomass heaters would be more complicated to develop and as such will not come into effect until April 2011.

The key now is to wait and see at what level the UK Government establishes the FITs, as previous experience in other countries has shown that setting them too low can lead to a lack of take-up of renewables, while excessively high limits become economically unsustainable and politically sensitive. Charles Hendry MP, the conservative shadow minister for energy, for example, welcomes the Clean Energy Cash-back Scheme, but shares the view that judgement should be reserved until the government confirms the level at which the new tariffs will be set. “It would be a tragedy if having got a [feed-in tariff] mechanism in place it was not set at the right level that solar and other technologies need,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mike Childs, campaigns director at Friends of the Earth, believes such schemes could play a significant part in meeting the UK’s climate change targets, although he points out that “payments have to be generous enough to reward people for investing in green power”.

Source - The Renewable Energy Magazine

Six years away from an energy crisis

The good news for Britain’s energy supply is that the sheer scale of the recession has cut our electricity demand and carbon emissions. An impending energy security crunch has been postponed.

The bad news is that the recession will almost certainly delay investment in Britain’s energy infrastructure and encourage complacency.

Energy security is no longer something that we can take for granted. This week more than 100 people were arrested in Nottingham over a suspected plan to disrupt a nearby power station. Will there will be more disruptions at other coal-fired power stations or against new nuclear developments now that we know more about where they will be sited?

For the past two decades we have had ample reserves to absorb the shocks: now the margins are beginning to wear thin. Many of the existing power stations were built in the 1970s or earlier. All the coal-fired stations are more than 30 years old, as are most of the nuclear ones. They are all coming to the end of their lives and their reliability is inevitably beginning to suffer. Although significant numbers of gas power stations have been added, North Sea gas and oil supplies have been depleted at breakneck speed. After decades as an energy exporter, Britain now relies increasingly on imports of gas and coal.

Fast-forward to 2015 and the energy position could be precarious. By then the remaining coal power stations will be facing closure because of the pollution control requirements of the EU directive on large combustion plants. By then all except one of the existing nuclear stations will also be closed or facing closure. Having to replace so much coal and nuclear capacity in such a short period is unprecedented – except perhaps in wartime.

And at the same time because of the EU Renewables Directive the Government has committed itself to a crash programme to increase wind’s share of electricity generation from the current 5 per cent to perhaps 35 per cent by 2020. But not only will wind power do little to combat global climate change (the big issue is the projected increases in coal burn in China, India and developing countries), it is also expensive and may even reduce the security of supply. It is uncertain too. Few think that wind supply on this scale will be achieved – though, unsurprisingly, few politicians will admit this in public.

What will fill the gap and at the same time back up the intermittent wind? The answer appears to be gas, gas and more gas. We will be lucky if even a single new nuclear station comes on stream by 2020. The carbon emissions from new coal stations will need to be sequestrated underground, and that technology is not likely to be commercially available until well after 2020. So before 2020 it would have to be “unabated” coal – which sits uncomfortably with the climate change objectives.

The chances of enough gas stations being built on time are not looking good, so the gas will have to be imported, and at a time when across Europe everyone is dashing for gas too. The Russians are not increasing investment in new gas resources and doubts remain about their ability to meet Europe’s demand. Liquefied natural gas will be used to plug this gap, but the sources of supply are quite limited and again lots of other countries (especially the US and Japan) will want it too.

The scale of the investment required to plug the energy gap while pursuing renewables is enormous. The cost of building not only power stations, but also new transmission networks and gas storage facilities, fitting smart meters, developing an offshore wind industry and implementing energy efficiency measures will run to tens of billions, possibly more than £100billion in the next decade. Though the recession has brought a breathing space on the demand side of the equation, it has markedly worsened investment on the supply side. The credit crisis has made it harder and more expensive to finance investment; just when the investment is needed, finance has dried up.

This matters not only for customers – though they are likely to be paying a lot more. The rest of the economy depends on energy supply. Have a bit too much and we pay a small premium. Have too little and we pay a lot. These costs are the real burden on the economy and they are felt long before any physical interruption in supply. We should worry less about the lights going out and more about the costs to the economy of running our energy system on the edge.

Russia’s interruptions of its gas supplies to Europe for three weeks in January was another warning, as well as performance failures at our existing nuclear power stations. These may be isolated instances, but our vulnerability to such events indicates that all may not be entirely well with our energy systems.

Source - The Times

How long do solar panels last?

Solar photovoltaics slowly lose their generating capacity. Although some solar panels are still working satisfactorily 40 years after installation and 30 with solar hot water, the conventional view is that most will dip below 80% of their rated capacity within about 20 years. This will vary slightly between manufacturers and between different types of silicon.

The length of life of a photovoltaic unit is a critical element in the financial assessment of solar power. Cash payback may take well over a decade in northern Europe, even with substantial subsidies, such as the proposed new UK tariffs. So adding even a few years of expected life can mean a major difference to the viability of a project.

Recent evidence from Japan suggests that life expectancy is longer than expected.[1] A company that reuses old panels reports that it has tested 330 panels made in 1984. 90% of these units can still generate 80% or more of their initial output. The industry expects that products made today will be even more durable than those made in the 1980s. The backing materials used to create the solar panels should be less susceptible to discolouration. So typical lives of thirty or more years can probably be assumed.

These findings are important because they will improve the financial assessments of solar installations and, as importantly, because they will encourage banks to lend more money against the security of the panels because they are expected to last longer. Put another way, if the bank was forced to seize solar panels because the debtor failed to make payments, these panels would have a longer expected future life and thus be worth more to alternative owners. This makes banks more comfortable and we can expect that they will eventually agree to lend more and require repayment more slowly.

In a coincident development, the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change has announced that its feed-in tariffs for solar PV will actually run for 25 years, not the 20 envisaged in its July 2009 consultation document. This will also substantially improve the attractiveness of investment in PV systems.

Source - Scitizen