Wednesday, February 29, 2012


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bala George <>
Date: Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 7:11 PM
Subject: ENQUIRY

Dear      Monty Bannerman

Can you supply solar products to us?

I am very happy to contact you for a supply proposal. I am an agent with the Niger Delta Basin Development Authority (NDBDA)

The NDBDA is challenged with tackling of the developmental problems, poor power supply, poor medical services,poor food products, poor road maintenance tools, poor agricultural yield, education, etc. Because of these challenge, an announcement has been made to invite suppliers of good quality products from suitably qualified foreign companies to bid for the supply of their products, including textile products ( workwears, t-shirts, towels, bed sheets, etc),medical supply, solar products, mobility aids, etc.

I am therefore seeking your co-operation as an agent to work with you for this offer. I am entitle to a commission from you after you have received your payment. I will need 1% commission for my assistance and agency activities to see that the contract is given to you.

You should therefore let me have your product lists, unit prices and other product information to enable me advice you on how we can proceed to this.

Please make sure you include my 1% commission in the prices and I promise you that I will do everything possible to make sure we secure the business together. Call me for further discussions.

I am waiting for your valued response.

Best regards,

Bala George
B&G Consultant
2A Ibikunle Close, Off Harvey Road, Yaba, Lagos.

Monty Bannerman
ArcStar Energy

READ THIS: FIT blowback from the munis

Spent nuclear fuel project to reduce spent fuel storage by order of magnintude | Nuclear Energy Insider

Suntech was the largest module supplier for the second year in a row


IMS Research: Suntech was the largest module supplier for the second year in a row

28.02.2012: According to the latest market rankings released by IMS Research, Chinese photovoltaic (PV) module producer Suntech was the largest supplier of PV modules by shipment volume for the second consecutive year. IMS Research found that Suntech shipped over 2 GW of modules in 2011. US thin-film module maker First Solar Inc. took second place in the rankings, followed by Chinese producers Yingli Green Energy, Trina Solar and Canadian Solar. The sixth position is now occupied by Japanese producer Sharp, which fell three spots from last year. Jinko Solar, SunPower, Hanwa SolarOne and Kyocera rounded out the top ten. According to IMS Senior Market Analyst Sam Wilkinson, “nearly all of the top-ten suppliers grew their shipments and collectively they accounted for nearly half of total industry shipments.” … Source: IMS Research; Summary: PHOTON



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Most attractive global solar markets


Ernst & Young: Global renewable energy market faces challenging times

28.02.2012: London-based professional services firm Ernst & Young’s latest quarterly global renewable energy report predicts that new investment in clean energy will be hard to come by in developed markets in 2012. According to the report, 2011 saw record levels of new investment in clean energy, especially in solar, and Ernst & Young expects this surge in investment will continue in emerging markets in 2012. The report estimates that Eurozone countries will be especially hard hit in 2012 due to financial constraints, the ongoing sovereign debt crisis and the scaling back of renewable energy targets and incentives. Further, the report expects the lack of renewable energy investment in Europe will lead to a consolidation of the wind and solar sectors and increased vertical integration. Spain, which recently suspended incentives for new renewable energy projects, was the most attractive country for investment in renewable energy five ago – now the country is not even in the top ten most attractive markets. Meanwhile, the report says that proposed changes to Germany’s solar feed-in-tariff (FIT) program would “significantly suppress market activity [in Germany] in 2012 and beyond.” The latest report still lists China, the US and Germany as the three most attractive renewable energy markets despite grid infrastructure issues in China, fewer incentive mechanisms in the US and the FIT changes in Germany. Regarding emerging markets, the report expects the Middle East and North Africa region will attract significant investment in solar and wind projects in the near future. … Source: Ernst & Young; Summary: PHOTON

The complete press release can be viewed in PHOTON's archive using the following link:



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Advanced Energy supplies inverters for six solar projects in Ontario

Advanced Energy supplies inverters for six solar projects in Ontario

27.02.2012: US power conversion technology provider Advanced Energy Industries will supply Canadian solar project developer Moose Power with inverters for six solar projects being built in Ontario, Canada. The six projects will have a combined capacity of about 3 MW and will receive support through the Ontario Power Authority’s (OPA) feed-in-tariff program. … Source: Advanced Energy Industries; Summary: PHOTON

The complete press release can be viewed in PHOTON's archive using the following link:



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Main Street gets German Financing for former OZ sites

North America

Main Street power announces financing agreement for Canadian rooftop PV projects

27.02.2012: Canadian joint venture Mom Solar has closed a $35.4 million financing agreement with German bank Norddeutsche Landesbank (Nord/LB) that will enable Mom Solar to acquire 24 completed rooftop solar projects in the Toronto area. The projects have a combined capacity of 9 MW (DC) and are supported by Ontario Power Authority’s (OPA) feed-in-tariff program. Mom Solar is a Canadian limited partnership owned by affiliates of Main Street Power Company Inc. and MS Solar Solutions Canada ULC, an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Morgan Stanley. … Source: Main Street Power Company Inc.; Summary: PHOTON



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Monday, February 27, 2012

BOS market up, prices on steady decline

PV BoS market to reach $24 billion in 2016

26.02.2012: According to a new report from IMS Research, the photovoltaic (PV) balance of system (BoS) equipment market is expected to grow from $17 billion in 2011 to nearly $24 billion in 2016. However, the report estimates that revenues for BoS products will first fall by 5 percent in 2012. Inverters accounted for more than 40 percent of BoS revenues in 2011, but IMS notes that monitoring hardware, mounting structures and tracker systems will capture increasingly more market share over the next five years. While the prices of BoS components are expected to decline over the next few years due to increased competition, IMS forecasts that suppliers will not see price declines as severe as those experienced by module suppliers. … Source: IMS Research; Summary: PHOTON



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


China cranks up production

China tells solar cell makers to produce 5 GW of cells a year by 2015

24.02.2012: The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has published a five-year plan that calls on polysilicon and solar cell manufacturers to increase production capacity over the next few years. The five-year plan (2011–2015) calls on China’s leading polysilicon manufacturers to each produce 50,000 tons of polysilicon annually by 2015, and it asks each of the country’s largest solar cell makers to produce 5 GW of solar cells a year by mid-decade. The plan, which does not specifically name any companies, is intended to help Chinese solar companies increase their annual sales. The price of polysilicon and photovoltaic (PV) products has plunged in the last year. According to PHOTON’s module price index, which is based on German spot market prices, the price of PV modules has declined by more than 36 percent in the last year. … Source: Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, PHOTON; Summary: PHOTON



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Friday, February 24, 2012

FW: Clearing Up the Facts About Solar In Germany | renewables100PI

On January 18, 2012, the German magazine Der Spiegel published an article titled "The Solar Subsidy Sinkhole," which paints a distorted picture of the German solar story. The following summarizes the misleading statements made - and facts to correct them.

SPIEGEL: "As is so often the case in winter, all solar panels more or less stopped generating electricity at the same time. To avert power shortages, Germany currently has to import large amounts of electricity generated at nuclear power plants in France and the Czech Republic."

FACT: During Europe's extreme cold weather in February 2012, German news reported that Germany actually increased its electricity exports, thanks in part to photovoltaics helping to strengthen grid stability at peak hours. France, in turn, relying on nuclear powered heating, had to import electricity from Germany.

FACT: Germany has been a longtime net electricity exporter. In Summer 2011, the country did need to intermittently import electricity from neighboring countries; however, the cause was not attributed to photovoltaics, but to the nation's ambitious shutdown of 8 nuclear power plants following the Fukushima disaster. Despite this bold move, Germany again became a net exporter of electricity in October 2011, according to the International Energy Agency's most recent statistics.

SPIEGEL: "German consumers already complain about having to pay the second-highest electricity prices in Europe."

FACT: According to a recent poll reported by Focus magazine, 61% of Germans do not mind paying more for electricity, as long as it comes from renewable sources. The magazine also reported that 71% would pay far more than they already are paying for clean, non-nuclear power.

FACT: That said, renewable energy surcharges only account for a modest percentage of the German ratepayer electricity bill.

FACT: Also, because the German feed-in tariff law has catalyzed wide adoption of localized renewable electricity (consider that 60% of renewable power in Germany – and 79% of solar power - is owned by private citizens, businesses, and farmers), many German residents now create their own clean energy and thus pay far less or nothing in net costs for their electricity.

FACT: Those that opt to put solar on their rooftops in Germany pay on average only 60% of what it would cost them in the US. This is because such a robust PV industry has blossomed in Germany as a result of the strong, economically supportive legal framework.

SPIEGEL: "According to the RWI, the solar energy systems connected to the grid in 2011 alone will cost electricity customers about €18 billion in subsidy costs over the next 20 years. "The demand for subsidies is growing and growing," says RWI expert Manuel Frondel. If all commitments to pay subsidies so far are added together, Frondel adds, "we have already exceeded the €100 billion level."

FACT: Although the renewable energy surcharge rose on people's bills in 2011, primarily to support a massive increase in solar installations, this only amounted to about 14% of consumer electricity bills, a relatively small share. According to the The Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, and Energy, in a report sponsored by the German Renewable Energy Agency and supported by the Heinrich Boell Stiftung North America, the average household did not have to spend more than "about 0.3% of its net income on the support for renewable energies via the EEG (the German renewable energy law).

SPIEGEL: "The RWI also expects the green energy surcharge on electricity bills to go up again soon."

FACT: The Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, and Energy reports that RWI's "costs are overestimated by at least 6% and up to 42%." According to the German Federal Environment Ministry, the renewable energy surcharge will continue to rise until 2016 and then fall until 2030.

FACT: It is also essential to understand that the surcharge for renewable energy in the German feed-in tariff law was designed to be temporary - to bring to grid parity the cost of installing renewable technologies, which have not benefited from the previous decades of pampering enjoyed by conventional energies. The surcharge is intended to phase out as this goal is achieved. The German feed-in tariff law has been remarkably successful. In the case of solar power, which has had the most robust incentives because it was the most expensive at the outset, prices have fallen so dramatically and rapidly that the feed-in tariff for solar is consistently being cut substantially and may phase out entirely within 5 years. In the meantime, Germany's renewable energy share of the mix has risen in a little over a decade from virtually zero to more than 20%, with solar making up 3%.*(See note.) Quite a feat for a country with the solar irradiation of Juno, Alaska. What's more, many German communities have already achieved 100% renewable electricity, while some are already net exporters of renewable power and are enjoying economic revival as a result.

FACT: It is also important to highlight that the renewable energy surcharge on people's electricity bills overestimates the actual costs to support renewable energies. Not reflected are: 1) the economic benefits of nearly 400,000 domestic jobs created in the renewable energy sector since the German renewable energy program went into effect (nearly half of which are directly attributable to the feed-in tariff); 2) the benefits to the environment of reducing carbon emissions, water usage, and pollution. In 2011 alone, renewable electricity and heating is estimated to have saved 87.6 million tons of carbon dioxide; 3) major savings in fuel import costs, amounting to 2.5 billion euros in 2010, and substantially more than this in 2011; 4) the fact that actual electricity prices have consistently come down with the increase of renewable power sources, a phenomenon called the "merit order effect." According to a recent study by Germany's Institute for Future Energy Systems (IZES) for the German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar), solar power has reduced the price of electricity on the spot exchange by an average of 10 percent, with reductions of up to 40 percent at peak hours in the afternoon when conventional power is most expensive. In all, the report states that the price of electricity on the power exchange has dropped due to the merit order effect by as much as 520 to 840 million euros.

SPIEGEL: "For the same cost, wind supplies at least five times as much electricity as solar, while hydroelectric power plants generate six times as much. Even biomass plants are still three times as efficient as solar."

FACT: This statement fails to recognize Germany's limited potential to expand its hydro, wind, and biomass installations. It also ignores the reality that a combination of renewable technologies is critical to grid stability. To illustrate using the technologies mentioned in the article, solar energy gives important peak power benefits, while wind tends to be stronger at off peak hours and along the cloudier coast, and biomass and hydropower provide essential baseload support.

SPIEGEL: "It appears that the subsidies have made the German manufacturers lethargic. They invest only 2 to 3 percent of revenues in research and development, compared with an average of 6 percent in the auto industry and about 30 percent in biomedicine."

FACT: As journalist Craig Morris points out, these incentives are open to the world-wide market, so why didn't they make the Chinese lethargic as well? He adds that First Solar's most recent annual report shows the "firm invested 3.7 percent of its net sales from 2010 in R&D, compared to 3.8 percent in 2009 – but only 2.7 percent in 2008. Despite its clearly higher R&D ratio, First Solar nonetheless failed to defend its market leadership, having been passed up by a Chinese manufacturer.

Morris rightly concludes "that the R&D ratio is not the main factor. Remember Solyndra? That firm famously went bankrupt after receiving a loan worth $500 million, but as Stephen Lacey recently pointed out in The Guardian, Chinese firms are on a completely different market, having received some $30 billion in practically interest-free loans from their government in 2010 alone. Therein lies the crux. But while cell and panel manufacturers near the end of the value chain are struggling in Germany, further up the value chain production plant equipment suppliers in Germany still command nearly half of the global market."

What is the bottom line in all this for the U.S.?

First, the Germans should be appreciated for and emulated in leading and continuing to lead the way to rapidly driving down the cost of solar power.

Second, the U.S. is not even close to facing Germany's challenges of rapid solar growth. To put things in perspective, in both 2010 and 2011, Germany installed more than twice the solar power that the entire U.S. has in the past 30 years. Based on figures from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Craig Morris estimates that for the U.S. to risk exceeding its peak power demand with solar PV, it would need more than 300,000 megawatts of installed PV.

Third, feed-in tariffs as Germany has designed them remain the best option for rapidly increasing renewable energy with the most economic benefits - including lower installation costs, locally owned clean power, job growth, protection from the steep price of environmental and nuclear hazards, and modest impacts to ratepayers.

Germany has a three-pronged approach to their feed-in tariff law that is a proven winning combination: 1) transparent, long term pricing that allows recouping of renewable installation costs plus a reasonable profit, differentiated by technology; 2) guaranteed connection to the grid in a timely manner; and 3) requirement that utilities pay for any upgrades the grid needed to connect renewable power. These three principles, combined with simple, streamlined permitting of renewable energy projects, are the recipe for success. We would be unwise to not to adapt it to our system as quickly as possible, especially when our own methods for cleaning up our energy mix have had a far less successful track record, and so much is at stake for future generations.

This piece was written by Diane Moss and Angelina Galiteva, Founding Board Directors, Renewables 100 Policy Institute.

*Author's note: To clarify, the renewable share of Germany's electricity mix in 1990 was just over 3% and close to 6% at the turn of the millenium when the country was launching its modern renewable electricity policy. Hydropower contributed the vast majority of this amount. While the share of hydropower has remained fairly stable in Germany since the dawn of the millenium, other renewable energy technologies (wind, solar, biomass, biowaste, and to some extent, geothermal) have increased substantially, which has spawned new industries and hundreds of domestic thousands of jobs.

Solar Energy

The information and views expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of or the companies that advertise on this Web site and other publications. This blog was posted directly by the author and was not reviewed for accuracy, spellin Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Wind farms push for business | Electric Power News | Energy Central

Heated Debate in the US Heartland about Climate Change| RenewablesBiz

Even the Chinese can't compete profitably with themselves


Trina is optimistic despite heavy losses in 2011

23.02.2012: Chinese photovoltaic (PV) products manufacturer Trina Solar Ltd. forecasts further growth for the company in 2012 despite heavy losses in the last quarter and a lower gross margin. While presenting the 2011 figures, CEO Jifan Gao said that since PV systems are becoming increasingly affordable, Trina expects increased demand for solar products in markets less dependent on government support and utility rate premiums. Gao believes this positive trend represents a great opportunity for the company and the solar industry in the future. For 2011, the company reported a net loss of $37.8 million, a huge drop from a profit of $311.4 million in 2010. Trina’s gross margin nearly halved to 16.2 percent, down from 31.5 percent in 2010. The company shipped approximately 1.5 GW of PV modules in 2011, up 43 percent from 2010. … Source: Trina Solar Ltd.; summary: PHOTON

The complete press release can be viewed in PHOTON's archive using the following link:



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Thursday, February 23, 2012

For Reference: Comparative levelized Cost of Energy (Does not reflect PV cost reduction from 2010, 2011)

Note: Source Cost Data collected in 2009.




Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Minister of Energy Bentley States timing for Review completion

North America Ontario says its determined to keep local content requirement

22.02.2012: In an interview with Reuters news agency, Ontario’s Minister of Energy Chris Bentley said the government would not change the local content requirement aspect of the province’s feed-in-tariff (FIT) program despite legal challenges launched by Japan and the EU. The local content requirement ensures that power installations only receive the FIT if 50 to 60 percent of the project’s equipment and services come from Ontario-based companies. Bentley also said that a review of the province’s renewable energy subsidy programs would be completed by the end of March. The review is expected to result in cuts to FIT rates, but the minister would not say how deep the cuts would be. In late January, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body said it would merge the EU’s complaint over Ontario’s renewable energy FIT program with a similar complaint filed by Japan. Japan and the EU both argue that the FIT program’s local content requirement unfairly discriminates against foreign companies. Proceedings have been suspended until at least the end of March to combine the two trade disputes. … Source: Reuters UK; Summary: PHOTON



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

IDB loans to Latam

Latin America IDB loan for green projects in Latin America

20.02.2012: The Brazilian bank Banco Ita├║ SA will receive a loan of up to $100 million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for financing “green projects,” which could include renewable energies projects, in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Daniela Carrera-Marquis, chief of the IDB Financial Markets Division at the Structured and Corporate Finance Department (SCF), states that "there is a shortage of financing for green projects in Latin America." IDB has already given several hundred million dollars for financing green projects in the region in the last several years and has also financed PV projects. ... Source: IDB; summary: PHOTON



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Monday, February 20, 2012

U.K . opens world's largest wind farm off the coast of Cumbria

First real signal that panel prices will stabilize or increase

Chinese polysilicon manufacturers expect to ramp up production later this year

16.02.2012: Chinese polysilicon manufacturers are currently operating at about 70 percent of capacity due to the collapse in the price of polysilicon, according to news agency Bloomberg. However, production is expected to increase later this year as polysilicon prices have risen 9 percent since mid-December and are expected to continue their ascent. The article reports that China has about 45 percent of the world’s polysilicon production capacity. … Source: Bloomberg; Summary: PHOTON



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Sunpower and Suntech post earnings

North America

Shares of SunPower surge on optimistic outlook

17.02.2012: Shares of US solar company SunPower Corp. were up nearly 9 percent after the company upgraded it forecast for 2010. The company stated that it “remains committed to achieving break even and a year-end unrestricted cash balance of more than $300 million, while investing in cost reduction.” Previously, SunPower reported a net loss of $603.9 million for full year 2011, representing $6.18 per share, compared to a net gain of $178.7 million in 2010. However, due to a surprisingly good forth quarter, excluding one-time items, the company posted a profit of 16¢ per share in the fourth quarter, which was far better than previously expected by analysts. … Source: SunPower Corp.; Summary: PHOTON



Suntech posts positive preliminary results

17.02.2012: Chinese solar products manufacturer Suntech Power Holdings Co. has raised its revenue guidance for 2011 due to the fact that its fourth-quarter shipments declined less than expected. However, the company declined to provide any information on 2011 profits or losses. Suntech expects 2011 revenue to be between $3.13 and $3.15 billion, and it estimates that it shipped 2.09 GW of solar products during the year. Previously, the company forecast revenue would fall between $3 to $3.1 billion and shipments would reach 2 GW. The company also announced that it recorded a write down of $571 million in the third quarter due to a challenging solar market. The updated fourth-quarter and full-year results are scheduled to be published on March 8… Source: Suntech Power Holdings Co.; Summary: PHOTON

The complete press release can be viewed in PHOTON's archive using the following link:



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Friday, February 17, 2012

Sunpower earnings

North America

SunPower release fourth quarter earnings

16.02.2012: US solar cell and module manufacturer SunPower Corp., which is majority-owned by French oil company Total SA, reported a net loss of $83.1 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2011, a significant drop from a profit of $152.3 million in the last quarter of 2010. For fiscal year 2011, SunPower achieved a GAAP net loss of $603.9 million, compared to a net gain of $178.7 million in 2010. Revenue for the quarter reached $563.4 million, while revenue for the year topped $2.3 billion. SunPower said it expects to achieve revenue of $2.6 billion to $3.0 billion next year, and it hopes to break even or post a profit. SunPower also noted that it expects to produce 900 to 1,200 MW of solar products in 2012, compared to 922 MW in 2011. … Source: SunPower Corp.; Summary: PHOTON

The complete press release can be viewed in PHOTON's archive using the following link:



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Renewable M&A Deals Surge 40 Percent in Value in 2011 | Renewable Energy World Magazine Article

Solar Power Network launches 23,000 square feet of rooftop solar with Plaza Ontario | Electric Power News | Energy Central

PTC Not in Tax Bill | RenewablesBiz

Questions about Samsung solar biz sure to raise eyebrows in Ontario

Samsung might shut down its solar cell business

15.02.2012: According to The Korea Times, South Korean conglomerate Samsung Group is currently reviewing the value of its solar business due to doubts that the solar cell business will ever be profitable. The article reports that a Samsung official, who did not want to be named, revealed that the company’s solar investment plan has already been significantly reduced. The article further states that Samsung has completely shut down its silicon production lines, which supply silicon for its solar cells. … Source: The Korea Times; Summary: PHOTON



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Borrego secures new round of funding

Solar companies secure funding to develop projects in California, Massachusetts

15.02.2012: US photovoltaic (PV) company Borrego Solar Systems announced earlier this week that it secured a new $47 million fund with US Bank and East West Bank that will enable the company to install a total of 6 MW of solar capacity in California and Massachusetts. In a separate development earlier this week, Hong Kong-based polysilicon and wafer supplier GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd. revealed that Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA Merrill) agreed to finance the construction of 15 solar projects in California with a combined capacity of 5 MW. The projects will be developed by GCL-Poly’s US subsidiary GCL Solar Energy Inc. GCL-Poly and BofA Merrill expect this initial agreement to lead to a long-term financing relationship. … Source: GCL-Poly, MarketWatch; Summary: PHOTON

The complete press release can be viewed in PHOTON's archive using the following link:



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Sun Edison and parent in choppy waters

MEMC reports significant net loss in the fourth quarter

15.02.2012: US wafer manufacturer MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. reports that its GAAP revenue for the fourth quarter of 2011 was $717.8 million, a 16% decline from $850.1 million in the last quarter of 2010. Meanwhile, MEMC’s GAAP net loss for the quarter was $1.484 million, compared to net income of $12.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. On its own, MEMC’s solar development business SunEdison achieved net sales of $381.3 million in the quarter, but it had an operating loss of $433.7 million. MEMC says SunEdison connected 161 MW of solar capacity during the quarter and notes that it was in the process of installing an additional 255 MW of capacity at the close of the quarter. During the fourth quarter, MEMC announced that it would lay off about 20% of its workforce and severely reduce production due to “the continuing cyclical downturn in the semiconductor industry and the severe market disruption in the solar market.” The company also combined its Solar Materials and SunEdison business units, effective Jan. 1, 2012. For the full year 2011, MEMC’s GAAP net sales reached $2,715.5 million, an increase of 21% from 2010. According to MEMC, the improvement was largely driven by increased sales at SunEdison. … Source: MEMC Electronic Materials Inc.; Summary: PHOTON

The complete press release can be viewed in PHOTON's archive using the following link:



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Nukes get the lion's share, but DOE budget still focused on solar

North America

Secretary of Energy Chu outlines proposed DOE budget for 2013

13.02.2012: US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu issued a statement outlining President Barack Obama’s $27.2 billion Fiscal Year 2013 budget request for the Department of Energy (DOE). A key goal of the president’s strategy is to reduce the cost of solar energy by 75 percent and make it cost-competitive without subsidies by the end of the decade. According to Chu, the budget would also focus on investing in innovative clean energy technologies and on reducing the country’s dependence on oil by one-third by 2025. The proposed budget allocates $350 million for early-stage clean energy research projects and $60 million for research into energy storage systems. Additionally, $120 million would go toward supporting the Energy Frontier Research Centers, while $140 million would support the DOE’s Energy Innovation Hubs. Both of these maintain ongoing research programs into various energy technologies. However, the majority of the funding would go toward programs and initiatives relating to nuclear energy and the country’s nuclear nonproliferation program. … Source: US Department of Energy; Summary: PHOTON



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Global wind energy grows by 21 per cent despite economic challenges | Canada emerges as leader

Fwd: Germany maps out financing plan for renewable energies

Germany maps out financing plan for renewable energies

February 7, 2012
Source: Germany Trade and Invest 

Germany recently passed the 20 percent mark for renewable energy in the electricity mix. The federal KfW bank group has introduced a new plan to further accelerate this shift to renewables, with increases in multimillion euro business loans now available. As more renewable energy is generated, energy management and storage are also receiving increased focus. Germany Trade & Invest, together with representatives of Germany's six E-energy model regions, will be at this year's E-world from February 7-9 in Essen to highlight opportunities for international companies in these growing market segments. 

"With such a large share of renewable energy in the mix, it is becoming more urgent to implement smart grid and storage technologies to balance the fluctuating supply. Germany is making an exceptional team effort to achieve our ambitious goals, with businesses, banks, researchers and the government all working together" said Heiko Staubitz, renewable energy expert at Germany Trade & Invest in Berlin. 

The new KfW plan outlines efforts to ease the financial burden of a wide-ranging shift to renewable energy. Previously, loans were available to small businesses for their efforts to move to renewables, and these have been expanded to cover companies with annual revenue of up to 3 billion euro. At the same time, loans are available to support research and development of energy storage, transmission, production, and efficiency techniques with grants up to EUR 25 million, marking an increase. 

In light of last year's decision to phase out nuclear power, Germany is further ramping up investments in renewable energy. Already, Germany features the world's strongest photovoltaic market, with nearly half of all global installations worldwide. In wind power, Germany leads Europe in total installations and is currently preparing for a major expansion in the offshore segment. 

Germany Trade & Invest is the foreign trade and inward investment promotion agency of the Federal Republic of Germany. The organization advises foreign companies looking to expand their business activities in the German market. It provides information on foreign trade to German companies that seek to enter foreign markets.

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Monty Bannerman
ArcStar Energy

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Canada, China Sign Investment, Energy Agreements | News |

So there, Obama.


Canada, China Sign Investment, Energy Agreements
Wed, 02/08/2012 - 9:32am Gillian Wong, Associated Press
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BEIJING (AP) — Canada and China expanded cooperation Wednesday
with agreements to boost bilateralinvestment and promote energy exports
to China as Ottawa seeks to diversify its oil sales.

The agreements were signed during the first full day of a visit by Canadian
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who wants to push oil sales and closer
economic ties following President Barack Obama's rejection of a pipeline
carrying Canadian oil across the continental United States.

Harper, who is heading a 40-strong delegation of Canadian business leaders,
witnessed the signings after talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao.

"Diversifying our markets is a key priority for Canada," Harper said in
opening remarks to Wen. "We look forward to expanding our cooperation in any
important areas, including energy, natural resources, tourism and

No specific details on the agreements were provided. Other agreements that
were signed included promoting science and technology cooperation, student
exchange programs and natural resource development.

Harper spent part of Wednesday selling Canada as a vacation destination
to China's rapidly growing number of tourists.

He spoke at a tourism marketing office in central Beijing, surrounded by
Chinese wearing cowboy hats — a bid to promote the Calgary Stampede, which
marks its centennial this summer.

Harper is due to meet with President Hu Jintao on Thursday before heading to
Guangzhou, the massive manufacturing center in southern China, to speak to

The visit highlights efforts by Canada to diversify energy sales. The U.S.
market currently absorbs 97 percent of Canadian oil exports.

Chinese state-owned companies have invested more than $16 billion in
Canadian energy in the past two years and hope to gain steady supplies to
fuel their country's booming economy. Chinese state-controlled Sinopec has a
stake in a proposed Canadian pipeline to the Pacific Ocean that would
substantially boost Chineseinvestment in Alberta oil sands.

Overall trade between the sides surged to almost $50 billion in 2011,
according to official Chinese figures. Chinese have also increasingly looked
to Canada as a destination for tourism and emigration.

Increasing energy exports has been a key theme of Harper's
administration. Canada has the world's third-largest oil reserves — more
than 170 billion barrels — after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Daily
production of 1.5 million barrels from the oil sands is expected to increase
to 3.7 million by 2025, which the oil industry sees as a pressing reason to
build the pipelines.

Harper remains determined to build a pipeline to Canada's Pacific Coast
after Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have taken oil
from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast.


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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

FW: U.S. Department of Defense Takes Forceful Lead as Early Adopters of Solar Energy | Renewable Energy News Article

U.S. Department of Defense Takes Forceful Lead as Early Adopters of Solar
By Michael Gorton, CEO, Principal Solar and Rebecca Halstead, Brigadier
General (US Army, retired), Advisor to Principal Solar
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has a tradition of accelerating
technological advancements, serving as early adopters and impacting the
broader commercial market in such areas as aviation, computing and GPS. For
the past several years, the DoD has been playing this same role in the
renewable energy space.

A new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts shows that DoD clean energy
investments increased 300 percent between 2006 and 2009, from $400 million
to $1.2 billion. Projections for 2030 are set to eclipse $10 billion
annually, with an overall target of obtaining 25 percent of DoD energy from
renewable sources by 2025. For the solar energy world, the DoD's energy
conservation investment program adds significant credibility to the

Driven by climate change and the need for energy security, the DoD's plans
are designed to strategically maximize military preparedness and
effectiveness during military, disaster relief and humanitarian engagements.
As the plans unfold, DoD will serve as a huge laboratory for innovation,
laying the groundwork for widespread adoption of new ideas for optimizing
efficiency and creating zero energy environments.  Efficiencies gained from
a greater reliance on solar energy technologies will create energy
independence and bring potentially enormous environmental benefits. Both
issues have a direct influence on national security and the health of the
U.S. economy.

Add to the equation the DoD as a massive energy spender. Right now, it has
300,000 buildings on its 500 plus installations, with 2.2 billion square
feet of space, and spends nearly $4 billion a year on the energy needed to
power them. These fixed installations are ideal test beds for
next-generation energy technologies. Federal government energy goals have
mandated energy reduction of 30 percent by 2015 and electric energy
consumption from renewable energy increased to no less than 7.5 percent
beginning FY 2013. These are ambitious numbers, but an analysis developed by
the DoD's Office of Installations and Environment demonstrates these goals
are well within reach after determining that over 7,000 megawatts (MWAC) of
solar energy development is technically feasible and financially viable at
several DoD installations in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts of California.

The Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and
Environment) has two key programs--the Strategic Environmental Research and
Development Program (SERDP) and the Environmental Security Technology
Certification Program (ESTCP).  Last year, 575 proposals were selected for
field tests in 2012.  These proposals were submitted by private firms,
universities and federal organizations and covered five areas: smart
microgrids and energy storage to increase the energy security of DoD's
installations; advanced component technologies to improve building energy
efficiency; advanced building energy management and control technologies;
tools and processes for design, assessment, and decision-making associated
with energy use and management; and technologies for renewable energy
generation on installations.

New construction projects, such as military family housing, require the use
of energy efficiency products that are cost-effective. A number of military
installations and bases are moving forward with plans to be "net zero,"
consuming only as much energy as they generate, including Fort Bliss, a U.S.
Army post with an area of about 1,700 square miles. The Enhanced Use Lease
(EUL) program enables commercial companies to fund, build and operate
projects in exchange for long-term leases of Army land. This program's first
renewable energy project is the Fort Irwin Solar (EUL) partnership with
Clark Energy Group and Acciona Solar Power to build a solar electric power
plant with a potential for 1,000+ MW of solar power production — the largest
renewable energy project in the DoD's history.


As the single largest consumer of energy in the United States, the DoD is in
a unique position to introduce innovative, clean energy solutions on an
enormous scale. By leading the way, they create the very real potential for
curbing staggering energy costs and optimizing the nation's overall defense
strategy. These new policies will help to eliminate hesitation in the
mainstream marketplace, leading to accelerated innovation and the creation
of new and profitable markets. By maintaining its current trajectory, the
DoD will continue to increase demand for partnerships, private sector
financing and a considerable influx of investment dollars into leading-edge
research, technology and business practices.

Michael Gorton, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Principal Solar, is
an entrepreneur, mentor and company builder, applying proven strategies in
the fields of renewable energy, telecommunications, music and healthcare.
Drawing on his extensive business expertise, scientific education and
training, Michael serves as a strong voice and proponent of solar power.

Brigadier General (Ret) Becky Halstead is currently CEO/Founder of STEADFAST
Leadership, a leader consultancy company.  Becky is an inspirational
speaker, consultant and advisor.  She served in the U.S. Army for 27 years,
leading over 20,000 soldiers and 5,000 civilians in Iraq, and commanding
eight out of her last 11 years in the Army. She provides logistics and
leadership expertise to the Principal Solar team.

Solar Energy
The information and views expressed in this article are those of the author
and not necessarily those of or the companies that
advertise on its Web site and other publications.

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FW: CNOOC in US$300m deal with Spanish solar firm; Oil giant hopes to gain key technology in return for access to booming mainland market

Another oil industry giant buys into solar.

CNOOC in US$300m deal with Spanish solar firm; Oil giant hopes to gain key
technology in return for access to booming mainland market

Eric Ng
South China Morning Post
February 3, 2012
China National Offshore Oil Corporation, the state-owned parent of listed
dominant offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC Limited, has agreed to pour
US$300 million toward a Tianjin-based joint venture with Spanish solar-panel
maker Isofoton.

The venture will see CNOOC gain a technology partner to help its expansion
in the renewable energy sector, while allowing Isofoton to enlarge sales in
China, one of the world's fastest growing solar-energy markets, amid a
slowdown in the European market due to government subsidy cuts.

Isofoton said it has technology that can convert close to 40 per cent of
energy from sunlight into electricity, around double that of conventional
solar panels that are in wide use around the world.

The joint venture will develop solar power plants with total generation
capacity of 150 megawatts in the mainland and other markets, Isofoton said.

"Isofoton's agreement with [CNOOC] is very important in fulfilling its
strategic plan, which includes China as a key market for international
growth," the Malaga-based company added.

Ma Fenglei, a Beijing-based industry analyst at Bloomberg New Energy
Finance, said as solar panel prices have dropped sharply in recent years,
Isofoton's expansion into more lucrative solar power stations development
will offset low profits in its panel components manufacturing operation. Ma
estimated global demand of 28 gigawatts lagged output capacity of 40GW this

China's solar power panel installation surged more than six-fold to 2.9GW
last year, and became the largest market in Asia Pacific with a 48 per cent
share, according to industry consultancy Solarbuzz.

Tianjin Lishen Battery, acquired by CNOOC in 2009, is one of the mainland's
largest producer of lithium batteries, a competitor of Shenzhen-based BYD.
Such batteries are used in mobile phones, laptop computers, digital-cameras
and electric vehicles.

Tianjin Lishen has an annual output capacity of 250 million units, said
CNOOC, which invested 5 billion yuan (HK$6.15 billion) in the battery
producer in 2009 to fund the construction of 20 production lines. Tianjin
Lishen produced 138 million units last year, earning a profit of close to 50
million yuan on revenue of 1.7 billion yuan.

CNOOC set up its renewable energy investment unit in 2007. It has wind power
projects in Inner Mongolia, Hainan and Gansu, as well as biodiesel projects
in Hainan and Jiangsu. It is also developing projects to extract natural gas
from coal.

CNOOC also has a joint venture with communications technology firm China
Putian Group, called Putian-CNOOC New Energy Power, which builds recharging
stations for electric vehicles in many mainland cities.

Copyright 2012 South China Morning Post Ltd.All Rights Reserved
South China Morning Post
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Germany can reach 100 GWp of residential solar capacity by 2020 - experts - ElectroIQ

Sunday, February 5, 2012

FW: Holding Solar Financing Companies Accountable | Renewable Energy News Article

Holding Solar Financing Companies Accountable
By Brian Farhi, SolarNexus
January 24, 2012   |   2 Comments

The increase in residential and light commercial project funding from leases
and PPAs is a boon to the solar industry but comes with unique risks that
require careful management. With financiers and investors holding these
smaller assets for 10 to 20 years, their risk now must be managed more
seriously, like that of industrial and utility scale projects. Quality of
equipment, field-level workmanship and ongoing performance will be critical
for investors to appropriately assess the risk in financed systems. These
risks are manageable, but will have severe consequences for the entire
industry if not addressed. Several of these risks are discussed below, along
with potential means of limiting them.

With securitization of these assets in the works for many lease and PPA
providers, there is a beneficial opportunity for the industry. 
Securitization is the process of combining the leases / PPAs into a
financial instrument that can be bought and sold. This incents more funding
agents to deploy capital for solar projects and allows more home and
building owners to have a system installed.  However, the underlying assets
must truly produce the cashflows specified by the firms that create the
security.  Many people may fear the use of such securitization methods due
to the adverse outcomes when applied to the mortgage industry.  However,
there's nothing inherently 'dangerous' about these securities provided the
various forms of risk are appropriately characterized and limited, and there
is a clear audit trail to calculate the real value of fielded assets.

With solar securities, risk comes in multiple forms.  Although there are
many areas to consider, three of the most serious threats come from: 1)
quality of equipment, 2) quality of installation, and 3) long-term
performance and its implications. 

Quality of Equipment

In a world where these leases and PPAs are securitized, the PV hardware
becomes the underlying asset that is the source of the cashflows for
extended periods into the future.  Therefore, equipment risks in the forms
of performance and reliability are a legitimate concern.  Third-party
agencies like BEW Engineering, PV Evolution Labs, and TÜV Rheinland PTL, to
name a few, have competently quantified technical risks.  

Most financing agents will only allow their financial instruments to be used
with a limited list of products they consider to be bankable, so the
technical risk to investors has largely been minimized so far.  However,
market pressure could encourage lower-cost, non-bankable equipment into
systems supported by long-term leases and PPAs; if that happens, the
equipment's performance and reliability (and the manufacturer's
survivability to handle warranty claims) will become a more serious issue.

Quality of Installation

Installation quality is the second potential wild card in evaluating the
risk of such a security.  Some organizations like SolarCity help to manage
this by employing their own crews and processes.  As the organization that's
also responsible for long-term operations and maintenance, they're incented
to deploy high-quality installations more so than those companies that
deploy capital but may not be directly responsible for managing the fielded

Many financing companies have a more distributed means of scaling their
operations, and deploy their financing via networks of solar contractors
(e.g. SunRun, Sungevity, and Clean Power Finance).  This creates a challenge
in managing the quality and consistency of the customer experience. 

One way that many such financing companies manage this is through
third-party inspections.  Organizations like Burnham Energy handle such
independent quality assessments.  This outside assessment helps financing
companies ensure their assets are producing what they should at
commissioning and are free from obvious issues that will limit the
performance of those systems in the longer-term.  Even more
vertically-integrated companies use these services to validate their own
quality systems.

Long-term Performance

Long-term performance is the third primary risk area, and one that seems
more easily quantifiable than is necessarily the case.  This long-term
system output is dictated by both general system availability and the degree
of production based on enumerable variables such as weather patterns,
soiling, shading, module degradation, inverter MPPT optimization, and
connection resistance, among many, many others.

Availability is a well-known metric in utility-scale PV systems.  To
underscore that point, central inverter warranties are often provided on
this basis.  However, when evaluating long-term residential or light
commercial systems, the economics of providing corrective maintenance
changes dramatically, thereby changing the decision-making on when or
whether to repair systems.  In a residential system, even with a
"significant" outage, kilowatt-hours can be lost on a daily basis as
compared to megawatt-hours for commercial or utility-scale systems.  As a
result, the benefit of a rapid truck roll is more often about customer
satisfaction than hitting performance estimates.

To make systems easier and less costly to maintain, there are solutions
that provide a way for contractors to easily capture, track, and access
detailed system information on-demand, and some also provide ways of
tracking fielded hardware and can even combine this with performance data. 
All of these services help to ensure enough is known about the fielded
assets in advance to limit the costs of corrective maintenance and long-term
operations.  As a result, systems can be more cost-effectively maintained
and generate more optimal returns.  Limiting these operations and
maintenance costs is typically more straight-forward than forecasting and
reporting output with high accuracy.  But even if enough documentation and
knowledge about the fielded assets are available, long-term monitoring of
the assets is also required to validate the energy output matches what's
specified by the individual systems in the securitized fleet.

Typically, future output is forecasted based on performance models involving
onsite measurements and/or satellite imagery.  These estimates are relevant
because they fundamentally predict cashflows.  Therefore, it's important
that models do not over-estimate performance or the financier / security
holder will have assets that underperform.  It's important to not
under-estimate performance or the financing agent selling the security won't
reap the full benefits of the security they've sold.  However, even if
performance is appropriately estimated and the other forms of risk discussed
above have been managed, the long-term performance measurement and cashflow
generation is still a risk.

Most financing companies have partnered with solar monitoring companies to
help ascertain the performance of fielded systems.  These monitoring
companies, like Locus Energy, Draker Laboratories, and DECK Monitoring, have
systems to help communicate with fielded sites containing a wide range of
technology.  They provide better insight into operations and maintenance
needs by transmitting information about service codes when systems fail or
underperform.  Many of these companies have also have teamed up with and/or
offer their own meter data management service (MDMS) to provide
revenue-grade metering for billing purposes.

The challenge arises when financing companies do not use such third-party,
high-accuracy reporting services.  If this performance data is not
independently validated, there's little that theoretically stands in the way
of an unscrupulous financing agency from modifying the performance data and
either mis-reporting the energy delivered or (in the case of PPAs) charging
customers more than the appropriate fee for the energy delivered.  This
could be an issue for lease providers as well, since performance is
guaranteed and linked to payment.  If such malfeasance occurs, this could
lead to wide-scale concerns about all such financed systems and securities
based upon those.  And if it becomes challenging to detangle the real from
the misstated, the entire market of project-backed securities that is likely
to develop could suffer.  Clearly, an auditable trail that can be
independently validated is of critical importance to help prevent any such
risks to the industry at large. 

Non-profits SolarTech and CalCEF have each recognized this need and have
started working to identify market gaps with respect to quantification of
project risk, capital formation, and bankability.  These efforts are timely,
and if they lead to accepted industry standards this could be a major
benefit to investors and the industry alike.

There are no grounds for immediate concern around potential misreporting
thus far; however, given our industry's precarious public perception after
the events of 2011 and the trade fracas with China that threatens to
destabilize the market, we serve ourselves well to ensure that any solar
securities have quality assets and cashflows underpinning them and to
support initiatives that reduce the risk of the underlying solar assets.

Solar Energy
The information and views expressed in this article are those of the author
and not necessarily those of or the companies that
advertise on its Web site and other publications.

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