Wednesday, September 17, 2014

SEIA, Vote Solar Celebrate Solar’s Continued Price Declines

SAN FRANCISCO and WASHINGTON, DC --(eSolarEnergyNews)-- The average cost of going solar in the United States continued its rapid decline in 2013 and the first half of 2014, according to a new study from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Two leading solar advocacy groups, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Vote Solar, applaud the report findings as the latest indicator that affordable solar energy is ready to power our new energy economy.

“In just a few years, American ingenuity and smart policy have made solar a true success story. These price declines mean that solar power is now an affordable option for families, schools, businesses and utilities alike,” said Adam Browning, executive director of Vote Solar. “The result is that solar and its many grid, economic and environmental benefits are shining in communities across the country.”

“This report highlights yet another reason why solar energy has become such a remarkable American success story. Today, solar provides 143,000 good-paying jobs nationwide, pumps nearly $15 billion a year into the U.S. economy and is helping to significantly reduce pollution,” said SEIA president and CEO Rhone Resch. “There are now more than half a million American homes, businesses and schools with installed solar, and this is good news for freedom of energy choice as well as for our environment.”

The seventh edition of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s Tracking the Sun, an annual report on solar photovoltaic (PV) costs in the U.S., examined more than 300,000 PV systems installed between 1998 and 2013 and preliminary data from the first half of 2014. Key findings include:

  •         Installed prices continued their significant decline in 2013, falling year-over-year by 12 to 15 percent depending on system size.
  •         Data for systems installed in a number of the largest state markets – Arizona, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York – during the first six months of 2014 found that the median installed price of systems installed in the first half of 2014 fell by an additional 5-12 percent, depending on system size, over 2013.
  •         Solar installed costs declined even as PV module pricing remained relatively steady, indicating success in efforts targeting non-module soft costs – which include marketing and customer acquisition, system design, installation labor, and the various costs associated with permitting and inspections.
  •         Cash incentives provided through state and utility PV incentive programs (i.e., rebates and performance-based incentives) have fallen by 85 to 95 percent since their peak a decade ago.

The National Lab notes that these findings mark the fourth consecutive year of major cost reductions for the U.S. solar industry. Today, solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the United States, employing 143,000 Americans, pumping $15 billion a year into the U.S. economy and helping to reduce pollution.

The full Tracking the Sun report is available here:

Bullfrog Power and SolarShare Launch Brampton's First Community-Owned Solar Project

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(eSolarEnergyNews) - Today, Bullfrog Power®, Canada's leading green energy provider, and SolarShare, Canada's largest renewable energy co-operative that allows Ontario citizens and businesses to invest in community-based solar energy installations, are launching the first community-owned solar project in the City of Brampton with a rooftop ribbon-cutting.

The Holtby project, located on an industrial, mixed-use building in Brampton, Ontario, is the latest SolarShare project and was completed with investment from Bullfrog Power. Holtby is the 25th SolarShare project in Ontario and has a system capacity of 600 kilowatts. Bullfrog Power-through its Bullfrog Builds Renewable Accelerator program-is among a small group of strategic partners supporting the capital-intensive development phase of SolarShare renewable energy projects.

"This project is an important example of the impact that supporters of green energy across Canada are having each and every day," said Ron Seftel, Senior Vice President, Operations, Bullfrog Power. "Through our Bullfrog Builds Renewable Accelerator program, bullfrogpowered individuals and businesses in the area and across Canada were able to contribute to making this project a reality."

With the successful completion of the installation, SolarShare will raise community investment through its Solar Bonds from co-op members. Investors earn a competitive 5 per cent return on 5-year bonds and so far they are close to having collectively raised an impressive $5 million from its members.

"As the first community-owned solar project in the City of Brampton, the Holtby solar installation is another landmark for SolarShare and renewable energy in Canada," said SolarShare President, Mike Brigham. "With each new SolarShare project more renewable electricity is added to the grid, benefiting local communities and contributing to the fight against climate change."

ReneSola Expands Distribution Partnership with SolarMax

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA --(eSolarEnergyNews)--  ReneSola, a leading brand and technology provider of solar photovoltaic (PV) products, today announced a new partnership initiative with Swiss inverter manufacturer SolarMax to distribute SolarMax solar inverters in Australia.

The partnership is an extension of ReneSola's distribution agreement in North America, and Australia will be the second country in the world where ReneSola will sell SolarMax inverters directly to the Company's customers. ReneSola will offer its solar panels along with SolarMax's P-series and MT-series solar inverters and accessories as a premium package to residential and commercial customers. The inverters are fully certified for use in Australia and New Zealand and are accredited by the Clean Energy Council (CEC).

"This new initiative has strategic significance for us in that the bulk of our Australia revenues are generated by our retail-oriented sales and marketing operations," said Mr. Xianshou Li, ReneSola's chief executive officer. "By expanding the range of quality and integrated PV products that we have available for sale, we can better serve our retail-oriented customers and thus continue to enhance our brand reputation."

"ReneSola continues to lead our more traditional Tier 1 PV peers through our one-stop-shop initiatives and our agreement with SolarMax extends the range of solar inverters we can recommend to our residential and commercial clients in Australia," said Derek Marsden, general manager of ReneSola Australia.

"SolarMax is delighted to extend our distribution partnership agreement with ReneSola from North America to Australia," said Christoph von Bergen, SolarMax chief executive officer.

"This partnership will raise the visibility of SolarMax's Swiss-made solar inverters through ReneSola's established worldwide sales channels and it offers an extended avenue for SolarMax to reach new customers."

"Our relationship with ReneSola will bring SolarMax's globally renowned inverters to a market where there is growing interest and demand for high quality solar installations in Australia," said Gavin Merchant, key account manager for SolarMax Australia.

Utility Scale Solar Farm Receives 15 Year Duke Energy Purchase Power Agreement

ASHEVILLE, N.C.--(eSolarEnergyNews)-- Innovative Solar Systems has just recently received a 15 year purchase power agreement from Duke Energy on the company's IS 41 project, a 48MW(AC) solar farm to be built in North Carolina and be online in late 2015.

Innovative Solar 41 is just one of many utility scale solar farm projects that ISS has in the company's portfolio of projects for sale in 2015. ISS company spokesman, John Green, is very excited about this project due to the size and amount of energy being added to the grid in the upcoming year. This is a perfect site in Bladen County NC for a solar farm states Green and construction should move rapidly once ground is broken which is scheduled sometime in early spring. The PPA signed on this project is with Duke Energy and is for fifteen years which should facilitate financing for the actual buyer, or investor on this project.

The project will be constructed on approximately 300 acres of farm land with panels oriented to face due south. Bids are being accepted from some of the largest panel manufacturers in the world for the roughly 200,000 solar panels that will generate enough electricity to power about ten thousand homes in this area. Advanced Energy is a leader in the area of Utility Scale Inverters and has been chosen as the inverter of choice for this project. The benefits to the county are many once this solar farm is brought on line in 2015. Tax revenue from this project will be a welcome addition to this area along with increased jobs and a huge reduction in the country's carbon footprint.

Utility scale solar farm projects like this are always a welcome addition to the areas where they are built and ISS has been contacted by many counties and municipalities over the years wanting projects like this one to be built on the county's land for the reasons discussed. A project of this size requires an investment of approximately $100MILL, but if the tax credits and incentives are monetized the overall returns for investors can be most attractive. ISS is taking the company public sometime next year and CEO John Green states that with almost 1 Gigawatt of projects in N.C., the company's expansion is occurring rapidly. Please contact Innovative Solar Systems at (828)-215-9064 to learn more.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

ISS Signs 48 MW Solar Farm Duke Energy PPA

ASHVILLE, NC --(eSolarEnergyNews)--IS 41, a 48MW solar farm project located in Bladen County, NC, was one of the selected projects that qualified for the Duke Energy Request For Proposal (RFP) that was announced earlier in the year. Signing the fifteen year PPA with Duke Energy on this project is “very exciting” stated representatives for ISS this week. IS 41 will be built on approximately 300 acres of level farm land located in the middle of the state and will employ almost 200,000 highly efficient solar photovoltaic panels producing enough energy to power almost 10,000 area homes. Advanced Energy has been approved as the inverter manufacturer for this project due to the level of sophistication and reliability offered in the company’s utility scale inverters.

The actual owner/operator for this solar farm has still not yet been determined and many potential investors are flying in and out of the area daily to view the site and meet with the partners at ISS to determine if this project will be an addition to their existing renewable energy assets. A project of this size is a $100,000,000 investment and is the perfect size to add to the renewable energy portfolios of many companies. ISS is in negotiations with several entities for the purchase of this project along with several other shovel ready projects currently available by the company. ISS company spokesman, John Green, stated that adding so much capacity to the grid in 2015 is very exciting for his company as they work on a possible merger in 2015 when the company plans to go public and begin expansion into a number of other states.

Large investors embrace these utility scale projects due to the economy of scale. Both hard and soft costs are greatly reduced when implementing projects in the 20MW to 80MW size. Project costs go down dramatically on these utility scale projects with savings on panels, racking, inverters, wiring, fittings, transformers and even labor, not to mention legal and engineering. Buyers of these large projects are able to see greater returns than smaller projects. Fewer suitable sites are usually available for these massive scale solar farm projects. When all approvals have been received including a purchase power agreement, buyers are usually excited at the possibility of adding a project of the magnitude of IS 41 to their existing company portfolios. Please contact Innovative Solar Systems, LLC today at (828)-215-9064 to learn more about this 48MW solar farm project or other available shovel ready projects.