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Residential solar may reach grid parity in California in 2015


California is the nation’s largest solar market in the nation, thanks to its incentives and rebates, which include a 33 percent renewable energy standard and the Million Solar Roofs programs.

And with a number of the largest solar projects in the world planned to start supplying utilities with power beginning to come online (at least partially) this year, it’s no wonder that the market has reduced prices to near grid parity levels. But now some are saying the cost of residential solar could reach grid parity by as early as mid-2014.

Environment California’s Research & Policy Center estimated that when the price of installed solar falls to $5.25 per watt, without rebates, that it will have reached grid parity in the market.

“If progress continues at the same rate it has over the past four years, residential prices will reach this cost-competitive position without rebates in mid-2014. Outside investment analysts place this milestone at around 2016,” the center said in its recent report, Building a Brighter Future.


U.S. official says offshore wind farms pose no threat to environment


Building offshore wind farms along the mid-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf creates no significant impact on the environment, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said on Thursday, clearing a major hurdle for the development of offshore energy projects.

Salazar, speaking in Baltimore, also pledged a quicker turnaround for the federal permitting process, saying, "No developer should wait 9 to 10 years for a lease." He pledged to approve leases for the offshore sites this year.

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Believe it: Solar power works well in Washington


Solar energy installations in the Pacific Northwest are proving their worth, despite persistent public misconceptions that winter’s overcast skies make solar technology useless.

Chris Herman, owner of Winter Sun Design in Edmonds, concedes winter solar rays aren’t as good as summer ones, but he knows that cloudy days still collect solar energy and that the region still can gain benefits from solar installations.

“People don’t realize that a passive solar home in Western Washington can still get 50 percent of its space heating from solar features, while adding less than 2 percent to the cost of home construction,” Herman said.

Credentials behind his views include his 25-year business venture designing houses with passive solar features, sustainable “green” building design and consulting services. He founded Solar Washington, the Northwest Eco-Building Guild and Sustainable Edmonds, and is interim president of the Edmonds Community Solar Cooperative.


Energy credits flow in community solar garden (CO)


Energy credits began flowing for a few hundred households and a handful of schools Wednesday as a community solar garden at Venetucci Farms moved from testing and tweaking to full operation.

That means the individuals and organizations leasing panels will soon see a discount on their electric bills.

The solar array is the largest project of its kind in the country to be 100 percent subscribed, according to SunShare, which runs the solar garden.

The Colorado Springs School leased the last 509 panels available, giving it the largest share of the array. That will cover a quarter of the private school’s electrical energy needs.

Read more: http://www.gazette.com/articles/school-132732-colorado-solar.html#ixzz1lFHSWbFR

Analysis: German solar groups could thrive on subsidy fears


Fears Germany will cap or cut green energy subsidies is boosting demand for solar panels, and uncertainty about the shape of the measures could give the country's battered solar sector an advantage against Chinese rivals.

Installations of solar panels have boomed in Germany over the last two years due to feed-in tariffs, lavish subsidies utilities are forced to pay by the government to those who generate their own solar power. Ultimately power companies pass on the costs to their customers.

But as the burden on energy consumers soars, Berlin now wants to tighten its grip on the market and is scrambling for ideas over how best to curtail demand. Proposals range from monthly cuts in feed-in tariffs to an outright cap on subsidies.

December saw a massive installation rush and some executives and analysts are predicting a bumper first quarter -- seasonally the weakest as bad weather makes it harder to install panels on roofs -- as people sign up for current schemes ahead of impending cutbacks.


China Cuts Subsidies for Pilot Solar-Power Projects on Declining Costs


China, the world’s biggest producer of solar panels, cut subsidies for demonstration sun-power projects approved in 2011 and this year after the cost of components declined.

The government reduced the subsidy for projects approved last year by 11 percent to 8 yuan ($1.3) a watt, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement yesterday. It will offer a subsidy of 7 yuan a watt for those that are eligible for the assistance this year.

The subsidy applies only to projects developed by owners who will consume the power for their own use under the so-called Golden Sun program.

The cost of solar panels fell 47 percent last year as Chinese manufacturers increased production, leading to excess capacity after European governments cut back on subsidies. The price declines has led some some companies including Trina Solar Ltd. (TSL) to predict that solar technology is nearing parity with fossil fuels to supply power to national electric grids at a competitive price.


California solar plans exceed state goals: regulator


The number of proposed solar projects in California last year was 4-1/2 times the level the state needs to meet its 33 percent renewable power target by 2020, a state regulator said on Tuesday.

California is the biggest U.S. solar market, although its share of the new project market has slipped from 80 percent in the middle of the last decade to about a third as other states, such as Arizona, Colorado and New Jersey have stepped up support for renewable energy.

Developers of large, or utility-scale, solar power plants have sought to expand beyond the Golden State, citing the large number of projects under development in California that have filled the state's demand through about 2016.

Still, only about 6 percent of new project proposals last year won approval by the California Public Utilities Commission, commissioner Timothy Alan Simon said at the Solar Power Generation Conference in Las Vegas.


Falling solar prices good for climate, bad for firms


There is a bright side to the plunge in solar panel prices that has brought down some U.S. and German manufacturers which relied too heavily on subsidies for green energy - solar power costs have fallen faster than anyone thought possible.

The falls in prices for photovoltaic components, pushed down by economies of scale and fierce competition from China, have made solar nearly as cheap as conventional sources in Germany's electricity grid.

The boom in Germany, the world's biggest photovoltaic market with 24,000 megawatts of installed capacity, has also helped to drive down costs worldwide, making solar a more viable and accessible alternative to fossil fuels in places ranging from India and the Middle East to Africa and North America.

The unexpectedly rapid drop in global solar prices has nevertheless hit some equipment makers hard - producers like Solyndra in the United States and Solon in Germany that failed to keep pace and ended up in bankruptcy protection.


Town turns off wind, opts for solar energy (Duxbury, Mass.)


At a time of accelerating production of both wind and solar energy, Duxbury officials have decided to buy solar energy produced elsewhere and take their own wind project off the table.

“It’s an opportunity to save money,’’ Jim Goldenberg, chairman of the town’s Alternative Energy Committee, said after town selectmen signed a 20-year agreement with a solar energy company that plans to build its facility in Acushnet.

The deal is expected to save the town up to $30,000 a year in energy costs and supply about 25 percent of the energy the town needs to run facilities such as schools, Town Hall, and other buildings, officials say. The producer, Pegasus Renewable Energy Partners LLC of Marstons Mills, has yet to begin construction of the solar farm. It’s expected to take about a year to begin producing power.

Duxbury is also moving ahead on a plan to lease its capped landfill to a private developer, American Capital Energy, a national company whose customers include the Army, to build a solar energy farm there. Town Meeting backed the project last fall.


Siemens supplies 100 MW of wind turbines to Morocco


Siemens Energy has secured its first wind turbine orders in Africa, with a total of 100 MW to Nareva Holding for the Haouma and Foum El Oued Wind Power Plants in Morocco.

Both wind farms are expected to commence commercial operation by summer 2013.

"These two orders mark Siemens Wind Power´s entry on the African wind market and clearly show that our internationalisation strategy is successful," says Felix Ferlemann, CEO of the Siemens Wind Power Division.

The Haouma Wind Farm project will be built in Northern Morocco, approximately 30 km east of Tangier, and 6 km south of the Mediterranean coast. At 50 MW, Haouma will feature 22 Siemens SWT-2.3-93 wind turbines.

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