Saturday, May 21, 2016

PG&E Empowering Hundreds of Local Students to Build Portable Energy Kits

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(eSolarEnergyNews)--Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced today a $260,000 sponsorship that will put more than 100 portable solar kits into the hands of local high school students through the company’s Better Together Giving Program. Not only will students build portable solar units, they will also participate in local sustainability projects and have a chance to make a global impact by distributing solar kits to certain countries in Africa, Haiti and other energy-poor regions of the world.

The kits, called We Share Solar Suitcases®, are small, portable photovoltaic lighting systems, powerful enough to illuminate a small room. PG&E will provide more than 100 of them to high schools in Northern and Central California, supplied by the nonprofit, We Care Solar. The schools who receive the kits will be trained to use them by We Care Solar and will learn firsthand the basic principles of producing clean energy.

Students will then be invited to submit videos of their own local sustainability projects. Winning schools will choose student and teacher representatives to deliver solar suitcases to orphanages, schools and medical clinics in Kenya with international charity Free the Children. Additional suitcases will be sent to energy-poor regions around the world.

“I love how this program combines clean-energy education and empowers young people with a spirit of community service. It’s about instilling the value of acting locally and thinking globally and showing young people that they have the power to make a difference,” said Helen Burt, PG&E’s senior vice president, External Affairs and Public Policy.

Following a successful first year for the program in 2015, PG&E is providing more Solar Suitcases per school this year, delivering them to more countries in need and expanding the energy training that students will provide to recipients during their humanitarian delivery trip to Kenya.
“It is the goal of this partnership to encourage global connections and to promote the solar energy literacy of students everywhere—here in California and in Kenya,” said Hal Aronson, co-founder and co-director for We Care Solar.

This Solar Suitcase collaboration adds a global dimension to PG&E’s commitment to STEM education and renewable energy. In total, PG&E has given $75 million to educational initiatives in Northern and Central California over the past decade.

“Last October, I was sitting in the classroom and we were building these Solar Suitcases. We knew the suitcases were going to go to Africa, but getting to see them in Kenya and seeing the people so happy to have this opportunity that they greeted us with a song and dance—it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen in the U.S. or anywhere else,” said high school junior Connor Schademan, one of the students who traveled to Kenya as part of last year’s program.

PG&E’s broader Better Together Giving Program further demonstrates the company’s commitment to building a better future together. With a focus on education, economic vitality, the environment and emergency preparedness, PG&E is aligning charitable resources with the company’s values. Working closely with local community organizations, PG&E is helping to create a strong, resilient and sustainable California. Community investments are funded entirely by the company’s shareholders.
Schools interested in participating in the program can apply now through May 31.
Learn more about the Solar Suitcase program by visiting pge.com/solarsuitcase or PG&E Currents for coverage and footage of last year’s program. B-Roll and interviews from students and teachers who participated in last year’s program are available upon request.

About PG&E
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), and the PG&E Corporation Foundation strive to power strong communities throughout Northern and Central California. Through the 2015 Better Together Giving Program, PG&E contributed more than $25 million to nearly 1,600 charitable organizations, including matching the generosity of employees who donated more than $7.9 million and volunteered more than 85,000 hours to company-supported events. Community investments are funded entirely by the company’s shareholders. For more information, visit www.pge.com/community.

Monday, May 09, 2016

SolarEdge Announces Fiscal Third Quarter Financial Results

FREMONT, CA.--(eSolarEnergyNews)--SolarEdge Technologies today announced its financial results for the fiscal third quarter ended March 31, 2016.

Fiscal Third Quarter 2016 Highlights
  •  Record revenue of $125.2 million, up 0.3% from last quarter and 44.9% year-over-year
  •  GAAP gross margin of 32.5%
  •  GAAP net income of $20.8 million
  •  Non-GAAP net income of $23.3 million
  •  416 Megawatts (AC) of inverters shipped
"We are pleased with another strong quarter despite challenging market conditions. Our growing customer base, continued diligent execution, strong balance sheet and increased cash flow from operations, coupled with our advanced technology, position us well moving forward,” said Guy Sella, Founder, Chairman and CEO of SolarEdge.

First Solar Names Georges Antoun as Chief Commercial Officer

TEMPE, AZ.--(eSolarEnergyNews)--First Solar today announced that Georges Antoun, President – U.S., has been appointed Chief Commercial Officer, effective July 1, 2016.

Antoun will have comprehensive leadership responsibility for Global Project and Business Development, with a primary focus on increased sales and sustainable growth in emerging markets. Reporting to Antoun will be First Solar global project development, business development and strategic marketing teams.

“Georges has a deep and broad grasp of every aspect of our operations,” said First Solar Chief Financial Officer Mark Widmar, who will become Chief Executive Officer on July 1. “I am confident that he can lead a fully integrated international business development organization that will deliver on our strategic objectives while focusing on deeper customer intimacy.”

As President – U.S., Antoun oversaw project and business development for the United States. Previously, he served as the company’s Chief Operations Officer, joining First Solar in June 2012 after working in the international IT and Telecommunications industries.

“I am honored to take on this expanded role as we enter a new phase of growth and development,” said Antoun. “I look forward to working with the management team and global associates to execute on our strategies and capitalize on the exciting opportunities before us.”

As part of this transition, Joe Kishkill, First Solar’s President – International, will leave the company to pursue other interests.

“Joe played an important role in positioning First Solar as a global player,” said Widmar. “We thank Joe for his contributions, and wish him all the best in his next endeavors.”

Friday, May 06, 2016

Photonic Crystals Keep Solar Cells Cool While Still Catching Light

WASHINGTON, DC --(eSolarEnergyNews)--Solar cells turn sunlight into electricity, but they’re only about 20 percent efficient. Much of the leftover energy turns into heat, which actually harms the solar cell.

Now researchers from Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USA, have developed and tested a new material that can cool a solar cell by up to 13° Celsius (C) under the California winter sun. Because heat makes solar cells less efficient, the researchers predict their cooling layer could help solar cells turn approximately 1 percent more sunlight into electricity, a big boost from a relatively simple add-on. The cooler temperatures also mean the solar cells will likely last longer due to greatly reduced efficiency degradation rates.

The researchers will present their results at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO), which is held 5-10 June in San Jose, California.

One way to keep objects cool in the sun is to reflect the light back into the atmosphere. This approach works for white cars and mirrored rooftops, but it wouldn’t work for solar cells, which need to absorb as much light as possible to generate electricity. An alternative is to make it easier for heat to escape — an approach called radiative cooling.

“What’s unique about our work is that we demonstrate radiative cooling while preserving the amount of solar absorption,” said Linxiao Zhu, a graduate student in the research group of electrical engineering professor Shanhui Fan. In other words, the new material keeps the solar cell cooler even as the solar cell absorbs the same amount of sunlight.

The researchers achieved the combination of cooling plus maintaining sunlight absorption with a wafer made of silica, a colorless mineral found naturally as quartz. The researchers etched tapered holes, about 6 micrometers across and 10 micrometers deep, in the wafer. The holes are designed to smooth the path the thermal radiation takes to escape
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The team tested the silica layer by placing it on top of a solar cell mimic — a polished silicon wafer with an antireflection surface and aluminum back that has similar absorption characteristics to standard solar cells, but wasn’t actually wired to produce electricity.

The testing verified that because the silica layer is transparent, approximately the same amount of sunlight still reaches the solar cell mimic. In fact, there was a slight increase in absorption because of anti-reflection and light trapping effects of the etched silica.

The researchers also found that the etched silica layer lowered the temperature 13° C compared to the bare solar cell mimic.

Cold solar cells function better than hot ones, so the cooler the better, Zhu said. The researchers estimate that the 13 degrees cooling would result in an absolute efficiency improvement of more than 1 percent. Aaswath Raman, a co-author of the study, also noted that heat can speed up the degradation of solar cell parts, so cooling could lengthen their lifespan and likely save costs.

Ultimately, radiative cooling relies on the coldness of the universe, which is a mostly untapped thermodynamic resource, Zhu said. And solar cells aren’t the only applications that could benefit from this cooling approach, especially since the new research shows it can work without significantly altering the sunlight absorption characteristics of an underlying material, Zhu said. Cooling cars, clothing, and outdoor equipment are all possible applications, he said.

The next step for Zhu and his colleagues is to test the etched silica layer with a real solar cell to demonstrate the predicted efficiency improvements. The team is also talking to industry partners who could be interested in commercializing the approach.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Standard Solar Installs Largest Rooftop Array in Virginia

ROCKVILLE, MD--(eSolarEnergyNews)--Standard Solar has completed the installation of a 1 MW (dc) rooftop solar array at Western Branch High School in Chesapeake, Va. Installation of largest single rooftop solar array in Virginia completed

The 3,200-panel array’s output will exceed 1,330 MWh/year and will offset 918 metric tons of carbon (the equivalent of one year’s electricity use for 200 typical homes). The project is currently the largest single rooftop array in Virginia. Dominion Virginia Power financed and developed the project under the Dominion Solar Partnership Program; Standard Solar installed the array.

“We commend Dominion Virginia Power and Chesapeake Public Schools on their commitment to solar energy making this groundbreaking project possible,” said Tony Clifford, Standard Solar’s CEO. “We were excited at the prospect of powering public education with the state’s largest rooftop array and working with Dominion Virginia Power on this project.”

“This solar array marks an important step in our journey to a cleaner energy future, and Chesapeake Public Schools should be proud of its leadership in that effort,” said Robert M. Blue, president of Dominion Virginia Power. “It extends beyond the power of the sun to an even more important resource – brainpower that will come from both the teachers and students of Western Branch High School.”

Dominion Virginia Power is a subsidiary of Dominion, one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy. It provides energy or products and services to more than five million customers in 14 states.

Students, teachers, local officials, and community leaders attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, April 27 to learn more about the solar system and how the output will transfer to the energy grid as sunlight is converted into electric power.