2015 was a banner year for solar power across the country — from the Carolinas to California — and 2016 is shaping up to be even better. California ranked first for utility-scale solar construction in 2015, with North Carolina ranking second, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In South Carolina, Governor Nikki Haley opened new solar markets in 2015, and more will follow.In North Carolina, Duke Energy companies set a record for the amount of solar energy they added in the state — more than 300 megawatts (MW) or enough to power about 60,000 average homes at peak production — and committed $500 million in its regulated service territory for a major expansion of solar power in North Carolina.
The intermittent nature of renewable energy sources is a huge burden on the power grid, making flexible and economical energy storage an essential step to a greener future. Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) and the University of Florida have now devised a way to conveniently store and release energy harvested through concentrated solar power (CSP) plants, improving on the cost and energy density of previous systems and preparing this technology for the smart grid.While standard solar panels convert sunlight directly into electricity, concentrated solar power plants focus an array of mirrors onto a solar receiver and use the resulting heat to drive an electricity-generating steam turbine. These systems tend to be low-cost, safe, long lasting and highly efficient, but they must be coupled to powerful and flexible energy storage to work at full effect.
Picture this: Wheelbarrows full of signed postcards and petitions being pushed (literally) toward the offices of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in support of net metering, whereby energy consumers can generate their own energy using solar power. It really happened late last week, as residents throughout California — representing a diverse coalition of consumer, environmental, faith, public health, environmental justice, and business organizations –gathered on the CPUC steps to deliver more than 130,000 signatures in support of net metering.
Suppliers already know the business potential of the solar energy system market. But a major conference in Germany last week demonstrated how European researchers are putting the region in a leading position in the development of photovoltaics, the core technology for solar power.The message is that investment in R&D can be used by the industry to achieve a significant future market share in PV products.There is potential to increase the level of solar energy in the European market. After a promising adoption levels in the early days of solar power, particularly in Italy and Spain, the rate of deployment has dropped off.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), which has interconnected more rooftop solar power than any utility in America, is proposing smart energy reform in support of sustainable growth of solar power for California.The plan, submitted recently to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), proposes new rules that would allow new solar customers to be able to achieve significant reductions to typical electric bills while beginning the process of creating a more sustainable approach that is necessary to support long-term growth of solar, battery storage, electric vehicles, home automation and other advanced technologies.In legislation now pending in Sacramento, PG&E also is advocating that the state count rooftop solar toward new renewable energy targets as another way to help ensure the continued growth of rooftop solar.
PG&E on Monday filed a proposal that urges state regulators to undertake wide-ranging changes in the solar electricity system in central and Northern California.Among the proposals: potentially reduced savings on electricity bills for people who switch to solar, a reduced credit for solar customers who have a surplus of electricity that they can return to the grid and a charge that is based on when a solar customer uses electricity, PG&E officials said Monday.
The US Conference of Mayors honored Santa Monica with a US Mayors’ Climate Protection Award for its successful Solar Santa Monica initiative.Solar Santa Monica has helped Santa Monica residents and businesses convert their homes and commercial buildings to solar power for nearly a decade. Adopting green energy sources like solar power is a key component in Santa Monica efforts to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions.
USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner was joined by 3rd District Congressman Ben Ray Lujan to help Springer Electric Cooperative in Springer, New Mexico celebrate the completion of construction of a new solar power generation facility.During the ribbon cutting ceremony Brunner said, “Today’s dedication of this project shows USDA Rural Development’s commitment to modernize America’s infrastructure.” Brunner added, “We are proud to help Springer Electric lead the way in diversifying energy sources among rural electric coops by investing in their solar project.”
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has been recognized by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) as a national leader in solar power for the seventh year in a row. SEPA’s eighth annual Utility Solar Rankings report measures newly installed solar power units connected over the course of 2014. PG&E earned the first place ranking in the Solar Megawatts category with more than 1,500 megawatts installed within its service area, equivalent to powering over 320,000 homes.PG&E delivers some of the cleanest energy in the nation to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. More than 55 percent of the energy PG&E delivers comes from sources which emit no greenhouse gases. By the year 2020, PG&E expects that number will grow to approximately 65 percent.
SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR) today announced that it has begun construction on the 86-megawatt peak (MWp) Prieska solar power plant in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. Expected to be fully operational in 2016, the project represents the third solar power plant constructed by SunPower under the South Africa government’s renewable energy program (REIPPP). In 2014, SunPower completed two projects totaling 33 megawatts, located near Douglas in the Northern Cape province.”With an abundance of reliable, cost-effective solar resources, South Africa is one of the fastest growing solar markets in the world today,” said Tom Werner , president and CEO of SunPower , a global provider of solar technology and energy services. “We are pleased to grow our presence in South Africa with the development of solar power plants that enable South Africa’s government to achieve its renewable goals, and look forward to continuing to serve the region with the opening of our new solar panel manufacturing plant this year.”