K Road’s Moapa Solar Project tribal land approved Companies mentioned: K Road, U.S. Department of the Interior, Clenergy, Bundestrat and Bundestag, Eni, MIT Energy Initiative, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, Turner Renewable Energy, The Southern Company
PV Intelligence Brief 22 June – 3 July 2012
Other companies mentioned: National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Turner Renewable Energy, and The Southern Company
K Road’s Moapa Solar Project approved on tribal lands
Marking the 31st utility-scale project approved on public lands since Obama came into power in 2009, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar announced the approval by the Bureau of Land Management of K Road’s Moapa Solar Project on an Indian reservation outside Las Vegas.
The 350 MW solar PV plant will be the first solar project of any kind on tribal lands. The BLM manages tribal lands in a trust, and its approval is required for energy projects on both tribal and public lands.
Groundbreaking is expected to begin within months. The Moapa Solar Project will be on 2,000 acres of the tribe’s reserve and power the Moapa Travel Plaza truck stop, which is an Indian owned source of tribal income, sited at the entrance to a state park.
The approval marks the beginning of a fast-track approval process for tribal lands that is similar in scope and intent to the BLM approval process for renewable energy on public lands.
Clenergy racking system chosen for 40 MW PV in China
Solar racking manufacturer Clenergy has announced that its PV-ezRack SolarTerrace I-B ground mounting system has been selected for a 40MW solar power project being developed in Jiayuguan, China.
The project is for one of the country’s leading utility companies. According to the firm, headquartered in China, an unnamed, but well-known Chinese PV panel manufacturer is to supply the panels. The PV-ezRack is the company’s newest product, and it has standardized beam and support components, with fasteners of the same specification.
The firm’s structurally strong W clamps, designed to clip the panels onto the frame with speed and precision, were granted a patent this year. The highly pre-assembled parts, including a novel use of roller-formed C-steel for the rails, also help to improve the installation efficiency and reduce labor costs.
Germany relents on Feed-in Tariff cuts
A compromise between the Bundestrat and Bundestag has been made on German feed-in tariff rates. At the beginning of this year the government had proposed drastic cuts to the burgeoning Feed-in Tariff program, in response to Economy Minister Philipp Roesler’s request to end the popular subsidies.
In response to protests by the solar industry, the government has modified the proposed cuts from 28% to 24% and exempted solar power plants of 10MW whose funding remains unchanged.
Under the compromise reached, a solar “growth corridor” of 2,500-3,000MW per year will be maintained by the Merkel government, but total installations will be capped at 52 GW. Last year Germany added a record 7.5GW of solar energy capacity. The subsidies are to revert to the original date of April 1, 2012.
Tariff rates will be lowered for PV roof systems of between 10-14kW to €0.185 per kWh for 90% of the energy generated, with the new rate kept at this level until January 2014. A new rate for medium size solar installations will also be introduced. In addition, the Merkel Government will support a new R&D programme for energy storage, making €50 million available from January 1, 2013.
MIT develops “fundamentally new” infrared solar cell
A new kind of carbon-based solar cell developed by MIT could be used in conjunction with traditional silicon cells to convert almost the full range of solar energy into electricity, according to MIT professor of chemical Engineering Michael Strano, whose paper is about to be published in the journal Advanced Materials.
The new extremely lightweight nano carbon cell would lend itself to combination with silicon cells because it is transparent, while being a high efficiency near-infrared solar cell. About 40% of the sun’s energy lies on the infrared side of the spectrum, not accessed by silicon cells. New developments in the large-scale production of purified carbon nanotubes make the first all-carbon photovoltaic cell possible.
According to a peer review, an infrared-absorbing carbon-based photovoltaic cell without polymer layers is the realization of a dream for the field. The research was supported by Eni, the MIT Energy Initiative, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense.
Southern Company and Ted Turner buy 20 MW Apex PV project
Atlanta-based Southern Company, the fourth largest electric utility in the U.S. has teamed up for the second time in two years in purchasing a solar project with Turner Renewable Energy, the renewable energy company of philanthropist and conservationist, Ted Turner.
The 20 MW Apex Solar Project, to begin operation by the end of the year, has a 25 year power purchase contract in place with Las Vegas-based Nevada Power Company, a wholly owned unit of NV Energy and was built in Clark County, Nevada by SunEdison.
Construction of the project, involving 88,000 poly-crystalline solar modules from Trina Solar, began in October 2011 with commercial operation expected by the end of 2012. SunEdison will continue to operate and maintain the facility. The first joint solar project between the Southern Company and Turner, the Cimarron Solar Facility, built on land next to Turner's Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico, was a similar 30 MW.
Southern Company owns 42,000 MW of generating assets, and is heavily invested in coal-fired generation. According to EPA data, it operates the three biggest greenhouse gas-emitting coal plants in the U.S. and is one of the top two utilities nationwide in coal consumption.
As Europe’s solar capacity growth stabilises, PV companies are shifting their focus from building new plants to operating and maintaining existing assets.
The US East Coast saw up to 5% less sunlight than average in 2014, while the West Coast enjoyed up to 10% more sun, according to a study published by Vaisala in April that highlights the volatile supply conditions faced by PV plant developers and operators.
CIGS-based utility-scale and rooftop projects in both established and emerging markets will help keep the thin film market share steady through 2019, despite an anticipated dip in 2015.