Solar

Should You Clean Your Solar Panels

Should You Clean Your Solar Panels

Google installed a 1.6 MW solar panel array at its headquarters in Mountain View in 2007.  The question was, “Does cleaning the solar panels make them more effective?”  They analyzed the mountains of data collected about the energy that these panels produce — after rain, after cleaning and at different times of the year. There are two different sets of solar panels on the Google campus — completely flat ones installed on carports, and rooftop ones that are mounted on an angle. Since the carport solar panels have no tilt, rain does not do a good job of rinsing off the dirt they collect. (Also, the carports are situated across from a sand field, which doesn’t help the situation.)  After cleaning these panels for the first time after they had been in operation for 15 months, their energy output doubled overnight.  Ceaning them again eight months later and their output instantly increased by 36 percent. In fact, Google Staff found that cleaning these panels is the #1 way to maximize the energy they produce. As a result, they have added the carport solar panels to their spring cleaning checklist. The rooftop solar panels are a different story. The data indicates that rain does a sufficient job of cleaning the tilted solar panels. Some dirt does accumulate in the corners, but the resulting reduction in energy output is fairly small — and cleaning tilted panels does not significantly increase their energy production. So for now, They Mother Nature take care of cleaning the rooftop panels. Accumulated dirt in the corners of a rooftop solar panel If you want to learn...

U.S. Army Selects ACCIONA

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has selected the team of ACCIONA Solar Power and the Clark Energy Group to develop a large-scale solar energy project (the first phase, consisting of 5 sites that total 500 MW) at one of its most iconic installations: the Fort Irwin military complex, located in the Mojave Desert, California. The base is the U.S. Army’s largest training ground and also houses NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications center. A memorandum of understanding was signed today by the Department of the Army, Fort Irwin and the joint venture created by ACCIONA Solar Power and Clark during a kick-off meeting celebrated at Fort Irwin. The announcement follows a competitive bid process opened in March by the U.S. Army’s Senior Energy Council, a body created in October 2008 to accelerate and oversee a sustainable energy strategy aimed at finding alternative energy sources, obtaining increased energy savings and securing energy supplies for U.S. Army installations, personnel, vehicles and other assets. A federal mandate requires the U.S. Army to reduce its energy consumption by 30 percent by 2015 (compared to 2003) and to cover 25 percent of its energy needs with renewable energies by 2025. The Fort Irwin project is part of the Army’s “Enhanced Use Leasing” (EUL) program, designed to allow private sector entities “to acquire and leverage value from under-utilized non-excess real estate assets on Army and select Department of Defense Installations.” The Defense Department’s largest-ever solar energy project ACCIONA Solar Power and Clark Energy Group’s joint project will develop approximately 500 MW of solar power, a figure that could be increased to 1,000 MW at a later...

Schwarzenegger Approves Solar Feed-In Tariff

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sunday signed into law a bill creating a feed-in tariff for small solar power systems between 1.5 and 3 megawatts (MW) in size, according to a Dow Jones report. California utilities will be required to purchase power from these small-scale producers at set rates, that could be between 15 and 17 cents kwh, a level that some companies believe won’t generate much investment in new solar, according to the report. A separate feed-in tariff is currently under consideration by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). That program would require the state’s three publicly owned utilities to purchase power from solar power systems between 1 MW and 20 MW in size. Developers of these systems would compete in reverse auctions to set the purchase price, and the entire program would be capped at 1,000MW of solar capacity. Schwarzenegger reportedly sent a letter to the State Senate stating that the CPUC should proceed with its program, because the state will need “all of the tools available” to meet its renewable energy goals. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) in July established its own feed-in tariff, and Ben Block of the World Watch Institute wrote in August that North America is at the tipping point in recognizing the effectiveness of these programs for incentivizing renewable energy...
Dow Unveils Solar Shingles

Dow Unveils Solar Shingles

By Todd Woody Dow Chemical Solar shingles that any roofer can install. Dow Chemical has unveiled a residential roof shingle in the form of a solar panel designed to be integrated into asphalt-tiled roofs. Jane Palmieri, managing director of Dow’s Solar Solutions unit, said the Powerhouse thin-film shingle slashes installation costs because it can be installed by a roofer who is already building or retrofitting a roof. “As a roofer is nailing asphalt shingle on roof, wherever the array needs to be installed he just switches to solar shingle,” said Ms. Palmieri, who said the solar singles are similarly attached to the roof with nails. “You don’t have to have a solar installation crew do the work or have an electrician on site,” she added. “The solar shingle can be handled like any other shingle – it can be palletized, dropped from a roof, walked on.” An electrician is still needed to connect the completed array to an inverter and to a home’s electrical system, but unlike conventional solar panels that must be wired together, the solar shingles plug into each other to form the array. Dow plans to begin test-marketing the solar shingle in mid-2010, initially targeting new-home construction. Ms. Palmieri said the market could be worth $5 billion by 2015 and noted that 90 percent of homes in the United States use asphalt shingles.   Dow designed the shingles, which will initially be manufactured at the company’s Midland, Mich., facility. Global Solar of Tucson, Ariz., is supplying the thin-film solar cells. Thin-film has generally not been used for residential systems because of its relatively low efficiency –...

Sierra Solar wins National Guard Solar project

Sierra Solar I LCC has won the Nevada Army National Guard’s Super Solar Phase I project to collaborate on PV solar energy generation projects at three parking lot structures – the Nevada National Guard’s Fairview Complex Headquarters in Carson City, the Las Vegas Readiness Center in South Las Vegas, and the Floyd Edsall Training Center in North Las Vegas – for a combined power generation of 3.4 MW. Sierra Solar I is a subsidiary of GA-SNC Solar LLC – a collaboration between Sierra Nevada Corporation and Gestamp Asetym Solar North America, Inc. Construction is expected to commence in November 2009 with all three sites operational by June 2010. (Source: Sys Con Media, September 28, 2009) Contact: Eren Ozman, President, Sierra Nevada Corporation, (775) 331-0222, www.sncorp.com; GA-Solar,...

RoseStreet claims Solar breakthrough

Phoenix, Arizona-based RoseStreet Labs Energy, Inc. (RSLE) indicates it has fabricated and tested a working PV cell that couples a silicon solar cell with a Nitride Thin Film, utilizing the same material technology as solid state lighting and blue lasers. The company considers this a major milestone in RSLE’s product roadmap to achieve substantially higher solar efficiencies than standard silicon or other thin film solar cells. This hybrid device is expected to achieve practical efficiencies of 25-30%, and RSLE is planning to start production in the last quarter of 2010. (Source: PR Newswire, September 28, 2009) Contact: Bob Forcier, CEO, Rose Street Labs Energy, (602) 431-6020, info@rslenergy.com,...

PARALEX™ Solar system

Sustainable Energy Technologies Ltd. has launched PARALEX™, a unique extra low voltage, high yield commerci al rooftop solar power system that delivers “a greater return on investment while providing the highest level of safety and reliability for building owners, suppliers, integrators and contractors.” Specifically, the PARALEX™ system produces 5-15% higher energy yields per kilowatt installed in comparison to conventional systems, and addresses concerns of public safety and liability critical for commercial and public buildings. In addition, the company claims that the system has a simple, flexible design that requires no special integrators, system designers or installers, thus reducing the cost of installation and maintenance. (Source: Marketwire, September 23, 2009) Contact: Robert Butcher, President and CEO, Sustainable Energy Technologies, (403) 508-7177 ext 111,...

Honeywell improves solar efficiency

Honeywell Electronic Materials will release a new material that improves solar panel efficiency and power output. The new product, called Honeywell SOLARC, is a transparent coat ing material that improves the light transmittance through the glass that covers PV panels, notably increasing the PV module efficiency and power output. This coating also significantly reduces glare from the glass, allowing the PV panels to better blend with its surroundings. Having demonstrated strong durability and protection to PV glass under harsh environmental conditions, SOLARC can be used by all common types of PC modules, however it provides the most benefits to rooftop installations where space is limited and increased efficiency is critical. (Source: PR Newswire, September 21, 2009) Contact: Peter Dalpe, Honeywell Electronic Materials, (973) 455-4908, peter.dalpe@honeywell.com,...

XsunX to cooperate with Intevac

Portland, Oregon-based XsunX, Inc., a developer of advanced thin-film PV solar cell technologies and manufacturing processes, and Intevac, Inc., of Santa Clara, California, are collaborating in the development of techniques and equipment for the production of commercially marketable processes and equipment for the manufacture of CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide) thin-film solar cells. The two companies will adapt high-rate production tools from the disk drive industry with process knowledge from the CIGS and thin-film industry. (Source: PR Newswire, September 21, 2009) Contact: Michael Russak, EVP, Business Development, Intevac, (408) 986-9888, www.intevac.com; Tom Djokovich, CEO, Xsunx, (888) 797-4527,...

Solar Power cost recovery

Global Solar Center has conducted a survey that indicates home owners in New Jersey can recoup the costs of a residential solar system within 1.5 years. According to Chairman Jack Hidary, the survey takes into account the cost of the system, utility rates, local incentives and other factors. According to their analysis, New Jersey has the fastest payback period, followed by New York and Delaware with paybacks of three and six years respectively. California tied for fourth place with Maryland, Massachusetts and Wisconsin, all with a seven-year period to recoup costs. With respect to commercial systems, Colorado, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Ohio and Oregon all have the shortest timeframe to recoup their costs with a 1.5 year payback period. (Source: Reuters, September 16, 2009) Contact: Jack Hidary, Chairman, Global Solar Center, (212) 790-2872, info@globalsolarcenter.com,...