Posting in Energy
The U.S. now has 5.7 gigawatts of installed solar capacity, enough to power more than 940,000 households. Find out which markets boomed, and which ones fell flat.
The number of solar panel installations in the United States skyrocketed to 742 megawatts in the second quarter, more than double from the same period last year, thanks largely to high demand in California and a strong utility market, according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight report by the Solar Energy Industries Association and the GTM Research.
In total, the U.S. now has 5.7 gigawatts of installed solar capacity, enough to power more than 940,000 households.
Installations varied greatly across states and markets. New Jersey, which analysts have warned for months would slow down, finally began to experience a correction.
Meanwhile, overall commercial installations fell 33 percent nationally from last quarter and residential remained flat. A downturn in the commercial market in California (down 45 percent) and New Jersey (down 35%) contributed a large part of a decline. However, these two states were not alone. Only 10 of the 24 states GTM Research tracks individually saw quarterly growth in the non-residential market in the second quarter, according to the report.
The jump in solar installations was largely driven by the utility industry, which had its best quarter on record with more than 20 projects completed totaling 477 megawatts. Eight states posted utility installations of 10 megawatts or greater. Not surprisingly California, Arizona and New Jersey were on that list. Other 10 MW and greater states included Nevada, Texas, Illinois, North Carolina and New Mexico.
Utility-scale concentrating solar power and concentrating solar photovoltaic installations continue to be added in the U.S. As of the end of the second quarter, there's a cumulative of 546 MW of concentrating solar capacity operating in the U.S.
CSP plants use mirrors or lenses to concentrate sunlight on fluid-filled receiver tubes that heat up water to create steam and drive a turbine to power an electrical generator. Two CSP projects, the 100 MW Quartzsite project and the 100 MW Moapa Solar Energy Center were expedited last month as part of President Obama's "We Can't Wait Initiative."
Meanwhile, Cogentrix's CPV project, which is essentially a mashup of two common technologies: photovoltaic solar (PV) and concentrating solar thermal (CST), came online in the second quarter.
Photo: Brightsource Energy
Sep 10, 2012
Even outside the US and EU, solar panels mean big business. China solar panels suppliers are expanding export venues to the Middle East, South and Central America, Australia and Africa. They are also boosting domestic presence to supplement overseas sales. See this recently posted article: Hot product: Solar panels weather challenges http://www.globalsources.com/NEWS/Hot-product-Solar-panels-weather-challenges.html
Don't think that the electricity utility distribution infrastructure hasn't already been paid for - except perhaps new generating capacity. The information I provided actually indicates that a new business model should be approached. In the early days of "deregulation", the whole idea was that electric utilities would move in the direction of "wielding" electricity produced by independent producers. But that isn't how it payed out because of the lobbying efforts by electric utilities. Electric utilities and fuel refineries will likely team-up in the future to manufacture fuels with renewable energy largely generated by homeowners. The profits will work itself out in the price of fuels. Also, profits would be generated in the difference between residential rates and high commercial & industrial time of use rates. Also homeowners should be allowed to directly sell their extra electricity to local businesses at a rate lower than utilities charge, but say - at a 10% surcharge as the middleman on the transaction. I would also propose that utility payback to homeowners be based on whether the installation deploy the leading edge, highest efficiency products paid back at the residential rate until the solar system is paid back. The lowest pay back after that recoup point may be something along the lines of [W(wholesale)+R(retail)]/2. Such would encourage manufacturers to compete to deploy latest photovoltaic advances. Also, electric utilities need to get smart about incorporating renewable energy solutions into their planning. As I stated, they can produce fuels or even install Zandergreen style battery distributed units into their grids. http://www.zandergreen.com/ Distributed energy has a track record of, in the event of a disaster or terrorist attack, providing energy to nearby areas that are unaffected. This allows disrupted areas to heal more quickly with support from unaffected areas. At very least, after the tornado or earthquake, homeowners with little or no damage can have a cold beer and invite their neighbors over. Since V=IR and R is a function of distance from the point of generation, the closer the generation to the end-use, the higher the overall efficiency of the system. So distributed energy is more efficient by nature than utility owned generation farther away. But the 2005 Federal Energy Regulations did nothing along those lines, just cutting payback to the low wholesale rate - completely unfair to California homeowners with over-sized solar installations depending on the original payback to cover their investment. That is essentially a perfect example of Federal Government interfering with State's Rights for all the Libertarians out there...
Now a days the consumption of crude oil,mines etc would be finished with in few years,for that days,the solar power is essential for man for living.Urban Lighting Group has it's products(led products) like street lighting,area,flood,canopy lighting,recessed canopy,high bay,low bay,facade,shelter,bollard lighting,indirect lighting,ground lighting.Their solar led products are solar street,solar bollard,solar shelter,solar flood,solar area,solar facade,solar path,solar uplights,solar banner,solar poles,pedestrian lighting,ground Lighting.It do not create pollution.So please check it out. http://www.urbanlightinggroup.com
The comments of Carlos Zavala are so true. unfortunately we have a grid lock on Washington for the past 12 years. Looks like all they are doing is fighting like babies and nothing ever gets done. This is very unfortunate as USA has abundance of solar, wind and geothermal energy available. This is not being utilized at any level.We are only 1/3 of the population and use 2/3 of all energy available in this whole wide world. Politicians talk about creating jobs. If this type of alternate energy is put into full swing, we will not only create millions of jobs, but will be able to bring the jobs back from China and India due to availability of cheap energy. May God help us............
Solar electricity (photovoltaics) was handed a big punch in the gut in 2005 when the Bush Administration negotiated the specifics of the Federal Energy Policy Act behind closed doors. Previous to this law, homeowners in California were paid back for extra electricity they produced from renewable resources up to 99kW at their residential rates. This policy enacted in 1978 by CA's Warren-Alquist Act acted like a teeter-totter preventing utilities from raising residential rates in fear they would encourage more homeowners to install overcapacity of solar energy. Utilities could still make money since they sell this homeowner generated capacity to commercial and industrial entities at huge mark-ups at tiered rates, On-Peak, Semi-Peak, Off-Peak. Since solar energy is generated during the day when peak demand is high, it seems to perfectly dovetail the utility companies needs - but then again - utility companies want more profits from their monopolies to provide a public service. Now residential customers who install too many solar panels get paid back at the wholesale rate, providing a dismally low rate of return. This is a shame when one considers that wires carrying 100 or 200 watts into the home don't care if they carry that power out. Neither do transformers and switches and most other components in an electric grid. The only "components" that really care which way the electricity flows is the utility company executives. Considering that the first solar panels for homes in the US were only 3% efficient, and that most solar panels sold to homes today max-out at 14% efficency (140 Watts per square meter) - and that there are technologies that may potentially reach 40% efficiency (lead-selenium quantum nano-dots) or even double that: https://inlportal.inl.gov/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1269&mode=2&featurestory=DA_101047 it is bad national energy policy set by corporate influences through advertising, lobbyists and politicians that limit consumer alternatives. Energy companies could be setting a course to manufacture fuels using this extra electricity form homeowners: http://www.nndb.com/people/784/000100484/ and http://www.coolplanetbiofuels.com/ or even other biofuel options http://www.biotechniques.com/news/Venters-New-Hope-Synthetic-Algae-for-Biofuels/biotechniques-323264.html Batteries and other electricity storage techniques have improved significantly over the past few years with the advent of hybrids and electric cars. More home made solar electricity will only help charge that industry further. Fragile ecologies such as deserts can be spared from becoming just huge utility operated sources of centralized revenue where electricity is wasted pushing electrons into far away cities. (By conservative estimates 1/2 the electricity produced is lost on the grid - no matter how "smart" it becomes.) More efficient locally produced distributed energy cuts those "V=IR" loses significantly. With increased emphasis (incentives) on home produced renewable power, homeowners could supplement their wages (stagnant since the 1980s in real $$) with real investments in rooftop solar, helping reduce the impact and duration of recessions. Also homeowners would be aware of the paycheck they receive form their solar investments, encouraging them to save energy, making the US a better example of how to make the planet more sustainable.
The reason utilities don't pay retail is that your retail rate includes all the infrastructure needed to deliver electricity to your home. And it's still needed in reverse when you want to deliver electricity from your solar panels to the grid. A big part of that is having power plants sitting idle during the day when everybody is delivering solar to the grid so the utility can provide power at night or when it's cloudy. And not every sunny day is in the middle of summer when every kilowatt is needed, but power utilities still have to shut down their plants and take everybody's solar. As an example, consider the huge arguments that have occurred the past couple of years in the Northwest each spring when the rivers are running full. There's actually too much power available, and the hydro people and the wind people are at each other throats over who gets to supply power -- and as a result, who gets paid. Retail rates for home solar just amount to another subsidy, this time paid by the other customers of the utility. It's just another form of wealth transfer. We may decide that this is socially desirable, but it's certainly NOT justified by the economics.