Thursday, January 29, 2015

AEG Power Solutions Improves Solar Plant Reliability with PV Care Check

ZWANENBURG, NETHERLANDS--(eSolarEnergyNews)--AEG Power Solutions, a global provider of power electronic systems and solutions for industrial power supplies and renewable energy applications, today announced its PV Care Check service, providing responsive, expert support for solar power generation plants – whether the equipment was originally supplied by AEG Power Solutions (AEG PS) or another vendor.

With PV Care Check, solar plant operators can guarantee the availability of their equipment and ensure reliable operation. By using the services of AEG PS’ certified experts, operators can maximize their plant’s efficiency, and secure its long-term profitability.

On site, AEG PS’ service technicians carry out functional tests to identify any problems or issues, and a visual inspection from the module up to the grid connection. Quick repairs are done immediately, while more serious issues are documented in a report, which includes a list of recommended measures to guarantee the long-term optimal yield of the power plant.

“AEG Power Solutions is known throughout the industry for our service teams’ short response times and effective troubleshooting,” says Dr. Stefan Kempen, Produkt Manager Advanced Power Systems at AEG Power Solutions. “Problems exist in 80 percent of solar plants in operation, with a wide range of possible errors that can considerably reduce the yield of the plant, and in the most severe cases can lead to life-threatening voltages – PV Care Check helps solve these problems.”

The inspection package can include visual inspection, performance test, removal of organic and inorganic contaminants, computerized digital error diagnosis and temperature analysis, as well as a review of maintenance protocols. Defective modules are checked for typical errors, including cell fractions, insulation faults, hotspots, delaminating, and discoloration.

AEG PS also tests the system using insulation measurement, and looks for mechanical imperfections, such as loose connections and corrosion that can lead to ground-faults and outages. Services provided as part of PV Care Check can include optical scanning, cleaning of the inverter, thermography for detection of hotspots to the network analysis and upper shaft assessment (THDI/THDU).

AEG PS has a global network of 20 customer support centers, with 150 support technicians in the field. AEG PS service teams are regularly trained in the latest techniques, and have the appropriate in-depth knowledge and specialist equipment to carry out detailed analysis.

The PV Care Check service is available now in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Additional countries are planned to be added.

KYOCERA Solar Enables Municipal Buildings in Parker, AZ to Stabilize Electricity Costs for Decades

SCOTTSDALE, AZ--(eSolarEnergyNews)--Kyocera Solar Inc. and the town of Parker, AZ, recently commissioned a 175-kilowatt (kW) solar energy project. The effort was developed and financed through Kyocera’s in-house Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) program, which enables towns, school districts and other entities to enjoy the benefits of solar energy with no up-front costs.

This innovative method of financing solar installations will transform the abundant Arizona sunshine into renewable energy to benefit Parker. The carport installations, which cover portions of the parking areas for Parker’s town hall, library and senior center, will shade approximately 50 cars from solar heat while simultaneously harnessing the sun’s energy. The 700 Kyocera high-efficiency solar panels and 12 SMA inverters will generate an estimated 300 megawatt hours of electricity annually to offset approximately 80% of the electricity consumed by the three buildings.

“Municipalities have a responsibility to their citizens to undertake projects that provide long-term benefits at a reasonable cost,” said Timothy Edwards, Public Works Director for the town of Parker. “We are excited to work with a reliable company like Kyocera, which provided the method for reducing our energy costs with their proven solar modules and financing model. By stabilizing our town’s electricity bills for decades to come, we’re providing a brighter future to Parker’s residents.”

This project, installed by Photovoltaic Systems Manufacturing of Mesa, AZ, benefits from a production-based incentive under the Arizona Public Service’s “Solar for Schools and Government” program. It represents the latest U.S. solar project developed using Kyocera’s in-house financing programs — which also include a 1.6 megawatt (MW) installation for the Madison School District in Phoenix. As part of a $14 billion global enterprise that has remained continuously profitable throughout its 56-year history, Kyocera Solar Inc. is leveraging its financial strength to develop and finance projects at attractive rates. This new business model enables Kyocera to offer its full turn-key solar energy systems with industry-leading reliability at very competitive rates.

“Kyocera is committed to helping municipalities and other entities adopt environmentally responsible methods that help their bottom line with our decades of expertise in providing reliable, efficient solar energy solutions,” said Brian Cowan, Director of PV Project Solutions for Scottsdale, AZ-based Kyocera Solar Inc. “Many people focus on driving down the cost per-watt in a solar installation, but the cost of financing also has a significant impact on the customer’s cost per-kilowatt-hour. By combining Kyocera’s premium product, systems engineering expertise and attractive financing, we offer an unbeatable combination.”

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Solar Is Making Dramatic Changes in Africa

 Arusha, Tanzania — By Tanzanian standards, Nosim Noah is not poor. A tall, handsome woman with the angular features of her fellow Masai tribe members, Ms. Noah makes a good living selling women’s and children’s clothes in the markets of this northern Tanzanian city. The four-bedroom brick house she shares with her parents and three children outside town has many modern comforts: mosquito screens on the windows and doors, a gas cookstove, and, most important, a faucet with running water in the back of the yard, next to a stall with a working toilet.

But despite their relative prosperity, up until late 2013, the family had no electricity.

“We waited 10 years for them to turn the power on – 10 years and nothing,” says Noah.

Then, one afternoon, the Noahs had an unexpected knock on the door. An agent for a new electrical company called M-POWER said that, for a sign-up fee of only 10,000 shillings ($6), he could install a fully functioning solar home system in their house – enough to power several LED lights and a radio. The payoff was immediate. While Noah used to spend $18 a month on kerosene, she now pays a monthly average of $11 for her solar lighting, and she no longer has to go into town to charge her cellphone. The person most affected, though, may be her 2-year-old daughter, Emilia, who is afraid of the dark.

“She would cry every night – every single night,” says Noah. “It was a struggle to put her to sleep.” Now, with a new light above her bed, “it makes a huge difference,” she says.

The changes taking place under the Noahs’ roof are emblematic of a quiet revolution sweeping across much of rural Africa and the developing world.

Until recently, the lack of electricity in many poor areas was seen as something of an inevitable fact of life. Building power grids across long distances to reach remote communities is slow and costly, and when the people in those communities are subsistence farmers living on less than $2 a day, the returns often fail to justify the massive investment.

Now, however, a new solar energy movement is bringing kilowatts to previously unlit areas of Africa – and changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The idea behind the latest effort isn’t to tap the power of the sun to electrify every appliance in a household. Instead, it is to install a small solar panel not much bigger than an iPad to power a few lights, a cellphone charger, and other basic necessities that can still significantly alter people’s lives.

Going smaller better fits the budgets of the rural poor. People use the money they normally would spend on kerosene to finance their solar systems, allowing them to pay in small, affordable installments and not rely on government help. The concept is called pay-as-you-go solar.

Many see it as helping to overcome the problems that have plagued previous solar “revolutions” in Africa. Richard Hosier, a senior analyst at the World Bank, likes to tell the story of his first encounter with solar panels in Africa.

Read the rest...

Florida Aims to Nearly Double Solar Power Capacity by 2016

Florida's largest investor owned utility announced plans Monday to build three new solar farms that would nearly double the state's solar capacity.

In its announcement, Florida Power & Light said it had found a "cost-effective" way to expand solar power in Florida and proposed to install the systems at three sites in its service area. The utility proposes to add 225 megawatts of solar to the state's current 229 megawatts by the end of next year in Manatee, DeSoto and Charlotte counties.

FPL is still refining the details of the project so the utility did not provide cost estimates. But the company said there would be no significant impact on customer rates.

"Over the past decade, we have continuously focused on advancing reliable, affordable, clean energy for our customers," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "In particular, we have been working especially hard to find ways to advance solar energy in Florida without increasing electricity costs, and we have developed what we believe will be a cost-effective plan.

But FPL utility noted in a news release that "solar power — even the most economical large-scale installation — is generally not yet cost effective in FPL's service area."

That refrain has been part of Duke Energy Florida's argument against any immediate deployment of solar power in its service area, though the utility also has been exploring possible sites in Pinellas County for a solar farm.

Tampa Electric is exploring solar with a project that is just 1 percent the size of FPL's project. Tampa Electric plans to build and operate its solar facility at Tampa International Airport.

The announcement comes as pressure mounts on Florida's utilities and on Tallahassee from grass roots organizations that are calling on the Sunshine State to live up to its name by tapping the sun for more of its electricity needs.

Floridians for Solar Choice — a coalition of tea party and Christian Coalition conservatives as well as liberals, environmentalists and retailers — has launched a petition drive to add an initiative to the 2016 ballot that would allow those who generate electricity from the sun to sell the power directly to other consumers.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Total and SunPower Celebrate Completion of 70-MW PV Salvador Solar Plant in Chile

SANTIAGO, CHILE, PARIS & SAN JOSE, CA--(eSolarEnergyNews)-- Total and SunPower Corp.  announced the completion of the 70-megawatt PV Salvador project, one of the world's largest operating merchant solar power plants. Chilean Minister of Energy Máximo Pacheco and executives from Total and SunPower attended the inauguration event today in El Salvador in Chile's Atacama Desert.

"As one of the world's largest operating solar merchant power plants, PV Salvador represents an important milestone for the electricity generation industry, proving that solar can provide wholesale power at competitive prices in completely unsubsidized markets," said Bernard Clement, senior vice president, Total New Energies. "With our affiliate SunPower, we are pleased to assist the Chilean government in its goal to diversify its energy mix and we look forward to further developing our solar activities in the country."

PV Salvador power plant is expected to produce approximately 200 gigawatt-hours of solar electricity per year, enough to supply electricity to approximately 70,000 households* in Chile.

"PV Salvador showcases advanced SunPower technology that will deliver maximized, cost-competitive solar power production over the next 25 years or more," said Jorg Heinemann, SunPower's executive vice president, global power plants, customer operations and EPC. "Together with Total, we are leading the market by delivering reliable, cost-effective clean power to Chile's utility grid, positively impacting local businesses and people."

SunPower designed and constructed PV Salvador. At the 138-hectare site, SunPower installed SunPower Oasis™ C1™ Power Plant technology, featuring proprietary single-axis trackers and over 160,000 SunPower's high-efficiency solar panels. About 300 jobs were created during construction work, many of which were staffed by local residents.

SunPower will now provide on-going operations and maintenance. In the desert environment, cleaning the panels using SunPower's robotic cleaning patented technology may help increase annual power production by as much as 15% while using up to 75% less water than conventional panel cleaning methods.

PV Salvador will initially operate on a merchant basis where the electricity produced is sold on the spot market and is delivered to the Sistema Interconectado Central (SIC) electricity network. The facility connects through the power infrastructure of Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile (Codelco).

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. government's development finance institution, financed 70% of the approximately US$200 million project cost through long-term non-recourse project debt. The remaining portion was funded by Etrion, Total and Solventus, based on ownership interests of 70%, 20% and 10%, respectively.