Friday, March 30, 2012

Conergy reports heavy losses in 2011

Conergy reports heavy losses in 2011

29.03.2012: German solar module maker Conergy AG saw a decline in revenue in 2011 and recorded a net loss of €162 million. Sales declined from €914 million in 2010 to €754 million in 2011, and the company's EBIT loss grew from €-14 million to €-183 million. In 2012, Conergy's management board expects sales to decline further, but it hopes to achieve an improved EBITDA. … Source: Conergy AG; Summary: PHOTON

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



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Thursday, March 29, 2012

FW: How Your Brain Is Like Manhattan

Or Toronto.

How Your Brain Is Like Manhattan
by Jon Hamilton

- March 29, 2012

It turns out your brain is organized even if you're not.

At least that's the conclusion of a study in Science that looked at the network of fibers that carry signals from one part of the brain to another.

Researchers used cutting-edge imaging technology to look at places where these fibers intersect. And they found a remarkably organized three-dimensional grid, says Van Wedeen of Harvard Medical School, the study's lead author.

The grid is a bit like Manhattan, Wedeen says, "with streets running in two dimensions and then the elevators in the buildings in the third dimension."

Of course the human brain has a lot of folds and curves. So, Wedeen says, you have to imagine Manhattan bent into some odd shapes. But the underlying grid doesn't change. The streets intersect at 90-degree angles and the buildings rise vertically.

The grid represents a big change from the traditional model of the brain's wiring, Wedeen says. In that model, he says, "the brain looked somewhat like a plate of spaghetti or perhaps like one of those old antique telephone switchboards with a million wires running more or less at random."

Wedeen says once he saw evidence of the brain's grid system, a lot of things began to make sense to him.

"I'd been looking at pictures of these monkey brains for years without being able to understand why the fibers were so often looking like sheets, why the curvatures were so well behaved and so organized," he says.

The grid model could help answer a question that has baffled geneticists and biologists for years, Wedeen says: How can a relatively small number of genes contain the blueprint for something as complex as the human brain?

The answer may be that in a highly organized grid system with consistent rules, a genetic blueprint doesn't have to describe every detail of the final product, he says.

"The grid structure shows how simple recipes can produce a very complicated outcome," Wedeen says.

The grid also may help explain how the rudimentary brain of a flat worm evolved into the complex brain found in people, Wedeen says.

The grid system, he says, would allow a species to gradually add new functions to its brain much the way an architect adds extra floors to a building or a city planner adds new streets.

"So you actually see the tools through which evolution builds a complicated human brain from more simply constructed ancestral brains," he says.

Not everyone thinks it's that simple, though.

The results of the new study are surprising and intriguing, but not yet certain, says David Van Essen, a neuroscientist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

"The evidence for their hypothesis is strong to some degree," Van Essen says. But he adds that "in a couple of important ways I think they may have oversimplified the story."

Take all those 90 degree intersections, for example.

Ptther studies show that the brain's structure also includes some diagonal pathways as well, Van Essen says. So he says it's possible the brain is neither pure spaghetti nor a perfect grid.

"I expect it will turn out to be somewhere in between," he says.

A definitive answer about the structure of the brain's wiring probably isn't far off, Van Essen says, thanks to something called the Human Connectome Project. It's a five-year brain-mapping effort supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Those findings should help explain how our brain wiring makes us who we are, Van Essen says, and what goes wrong in disorders like autism and Alzheimer's disease. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

To learn more about the NPR iPhone app, go to

Sent from my iPod

FW: Ontario Reaches Agreement With God's Lake Resources and First Nations

Friction between miners and natives.


Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


From: Ontario News []
Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2012 2:30 PM
Subject: Ontario Reaches Agreement With God's Lake Resources


Ontario Reaches Agreement With God's Lake Resources

March 29, 2012

McGuinty Government Balances Industry and Aboriginal Interests

Ontario has reached an agreement with Toronto-based junior mineral exploration company God's Lake Resources (GLR) to surrender its mining lease and claims near the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation.

In keeping with the agreement, GLR has surrendered its mining lease and claims, north of Red Lake in Northwestern Ontario. The lands are now subject to the Province's recent withdrawal from staking and mineral exploration in the area.

It was the ministry's goal to see KI and GLR work together to build a positive relationship. This settlement responds to KI's concerns, while allowing GLR to move forward with mineral exploration in other parts of the province in the future.


"Our government is committed to assisting companies move forward with exploration and development in Ontario and continuing to meet our duty to consult. With mineral exploration investment in Ontario reaching an historic $1 billion, clearly, there are excellent economic opportunities for all affected parties, including First Nations communities, who are interested in benefitting from our successful mining industry."

 – Rick Bartolucci
Minister of Northern Development and Mines


  • Ontario is responsible for managing Crown lands and the natural resources of the province. At the same time, Ontario is committed to meeting its constitutional obligations to Aboriginal peoples.
  • Ontario will pay GLR $3.5 million in return for surrendering its lease and claims in the Red Lake area.


Ministry of Northern Development and Mines


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

FW: NextEra Energy buys Ontario solar projects from First Solar - POWERGRID International/Electric Light & Power

Note: NextEra is the renewable division of Florida Power and Light. They
acquired Solar Power Partners, and by extension, the JCM portfolio.

Subject: NextEra Energy buys Ontario solar projects from First Solar -
POWERGRID International/Electric Light & Power

NextEra Energy buys Ontario solar projects from First Solar

Juno Beach, Fla., March 12, 2012 - NextEra Energy Resources purchased two
solar photovoltaic projects totaling 40 MW in Ontario, Canada from First

The projects, located in St. Clair, were designed, developed and constructed
by First Solar, using its advanced thin film PV modules, and began
commercial operation in February, 2012.

The two projects are owned and operated by subsidiaries of NextEra Energy
Resources' Canadian unit, NextEra Energy Canada, ULC, and provide enough
power to serve about 6,440 homes.

Each year the solar generation is expected to help avoid nearly 45,000 tons
of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of removing nearly 8,600 cars
from the road every year for the life of the projects. The power is being
sold to the Ontario Power Authority via long-term contracts under its
Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program.

Source: POWERGRID Inte
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

FW: Closed NYC Landfill Will Be Home to Solar, Wind Farm


Closed NYC Landfill Will Be Home to Solar, Wind Farm News

Since New York City closed the Fresh Kills landfill in 2002 - the largest in
the world - the 2200 acres have been turned into a park.

Now, the Staten Island mountain that holds 2 billion tons of garbage
deposited there over 53 years, could also be home to solar and wind.

The City is requesting bids for solar and wind on 75 of those acres to build
about 20 megawatts (MW), enough energy for about 6000 homes.

The deadline for bids is May 24th and construction will likely start in

Although it would be a tiny contribution to NYC's energy demand, which
peaked last summer at 13,000 MW, it's a start.

Longer term, the plan would convert about 250 acres to solar plants,
generating electricity for 50,000 homes.

The project is part of Mayor Bloomberg's ambitious PlaNYC sustainability
plan, which targets a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases in NYC by 2030, and
spends $2.3 billion to do it.

Since buildings are responsible for 75% of NYC's emisions, the emphasis is
making them more efficient through its Greener, Greater Building program.
It's also creating a non-profit NYC Energy Efficiency Corporation to provide
low-cost financing to building owners to make energy efficiency upgrades.
It's funded with $40 million from the federal Recovery Act.

A unique program gives cleantech start-ups a chance to test drive their
products that increase energy efficiency in buildings, by offering them for
trial runs to landlords.

The updated PlaNYC includes initiatives and targets for: Land, Water, Air,
Energy and Transportation.

The impressive, thorough plan is worth taking a look at. As of 2010,
volunteers had installed a million square feet of cool roofs on city roofs
to counter the heat island effect, and a Green Infrastructure plan to absorb

Here's the PlaNYC website:

Website: www.n
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

FIT fan mail: Bold Ontario Feed-in Law Renewed

By Paul Gipe

In a much anticipated decision, the Ontario government released its changes
to the province's groundbreaking Feed-in Tariff Program last week.

Most significantly, the government emphasized its continued commitment to
developing its renewable energy resources, the use of feed-in tariffs policy
for doing so, and a further expansion of Ontario's green energy economy.

The government approved the new program, dubbed FIT 2.0, and regulations are
now being developed by the Ontario Power Authority to implement it.

For the most part, renewable energy advocates breathed a sigh of relief with
the announcement.

No other jurisdiction in North American has such a comprehensive policy
covering most renewable energies, nor the tariffs to incentivize

California and New Jersey, for example, have programs for solar PV, and
overall targets for renewable energy that typically favor large wind
projects. Importantly, Ontario, and the smaller province of Nova Scotia,
emphasize community or local ownership of renewable generation.

Last year, Ontario awarded 872 megawatts (MW) of FIT contracts
to 40 renewable energy projects.

Nevertheless, Ontario's announcement did not address a major barrier to the
rapid expansion of renewables in the province: the antiquated grid and the
reluctance of the grid operator to increase connections.

Tariffs Cut

Reflecting the rapid downward prices of solar PV, Ontario substantially cut
those tariffs from 10-30% from previous levels.

Small systems under 10 kilowatts (kW) are cut 30% and large groundmounted
systems are cut 22%.

Still, the new tariffs are substantially higher than those for comparable
size systems in Germany.

Wind tariffs are cut nearly 15%, while tariffs for hydro, biomass, on farm
biogas, biogas, and landfill gas remain the same.

Significantly, it also raises the inflation adjustment for biomass and
biogas 20%, leaves wind and hydro the same, and doesn't include one for
solar PV. The degree that tariffs rise with inflation can make or break a
long term investment that has a contract of 20 years or more.

FIT 2.0 doesn't broaden the program to include other technologies, such as
solar hot-water, storage, small wind turbines or ground-source heat pumps.

The program will come up for review annuallly to keep pace with cost
changes, particularly for solar PV. The next review begins in November and
new prices will be implemented in January, 2013.

Preference for Community-Owned Generation

FIT 2.0 includes steps to boost community-owned generation.

The previous first-come, first-served approach to awarding contracts didn't
account for the increased complexity and time needed for required to develop
community-owned projects.

Introduce a system for prioritizing connections for community, aboriginal,
and public institutions, maintain price adders or bonus payments for
community- and aboriginal-owned projects, and set aside 10% of grid
connection capacity for community and aboriginal projects with a minimum of
50% equity ownership.
Projects with more than 50% of the equity owned by aboriginal communities
receive a bonus payment of $0.015 CAD/kWh.

Projects with more than 50% of the equity owned by community groups,
farmers, and cooperatives receive a bonus payment of $0.01 CAD/kWh.

New contracts will be awarded on a points system. Community and
aboriginal-owned projects get the most points (3), followed by schools and
other public institutions (2). Projects that have municipal council support
get 2 points as do "shovel-ready" projects. Hydro and bioenergy projects get
1 point for providing "system benefits."

Increases Renewable Energy Target

Despite this aggressive Feed-in Tariff Program, Ontario has a tiny renewable
energy, 13% by 2018.

To address concerns that Ontario will quickly reach this target, FIT 2.0
moves it up to 2015, allowing development to occur more quickly.

The government says it will review the target in 2013 and possibly raise it.

Connection Barriers Remain

Analysts are quick to note the biggest obstacle to more renewable projects
is connecting them to Ontario's aging grid.

Hydro One, the largest local distribution company in Ontario, is notorious
for arcane, contradictory and often arbitrary rules for interconnection. No
more than 7% of any distribution transformer can be used for renewable
energy, according to Hydro One.

Despite some drawbacks, Ontario's government withstood fierce opposition
from the anti-renewables lobby and refined a pioneering program that has
made the province a beacon of renewable energy policy in a sea of mediocrity
in North America.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

FW: Strong Budget Action for Ontario

Just released.


Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


From: Ontario News []
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 4:23 PM
Subject: Strong Action for Ontario


Strong Action for Ontario

March 27, 2012

A Plan to Balance the Budget, Create Jobs, Protect Education and Health Care

The 2012 Ontario Budget includes a deficit elimination plan that reduces program spending growth and contains costs by $17.7 billion over the next three years, while increasing revenues by $4.4 billion without raising taxes.

This is serious action for a serious time and puts Ontario on track to eliminate the deficit by 2017-18.

More than 50 cents of every dollar spent by the Ontario government pays for the compensation of teachers, doctors and others in the broader public sector. Given the serious fiscal challenge the Province is facing, compensation costs must be managed if the government is to meet its fiscal targets and protect the gains made over the past eight years in education and health care.

The collective bargaining process will be respected. Where agreements cannot be negotiated that are consistent with the plan to balance the budget and protect priority services, the government is prepared to propose the necessary administrative and legislative measures.

The government intends to introduce a number of measures to make public sector pensions more affordable for taxpayers and sustainable for pension plan members, following consultations with affected stakeholders. For example, in cases where pensions are in a deficit, many public sector workers would be asked to reduce future benefits before seeking additional pension contributions from employers or the government. Current retirees would not be affected.

The 2012 Budget proposes strong action to balance the budget by 2017-18, including:

  • Implementing savings of $4.9 billion over three years
  • Freezing the general Corporate Income Tax rate and Business Education Tax rate reductions until the budget is balanced
  • Capping the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit at 3,000 kWh per month
  • Changing the Ontario Drug Benefit program so that about five per cent of seniors -- those with the highest incomes -- pay a larger share of their prescription drug costs
  • Ensuring Ontario user fees recover more of the cost of providing programs and services
  • Extending the pay freeze for MPPs for another two years -- for a total of five years
  • Extending the pay freeze for executives at hospitals, universities, colleges, school boards and agencies for another two years.


The deficit for 2011-12 is projected to be $15.3 billion -- $1 billion lower than forecast a year ago and an improvement of over 38 per cent from the 2009-10 deficit forecast in the fall of 2009. Without the measures announced in the 2012 Budget, Ontario's deficit would approach $25 billion in 2014-15. Instead, it is projected to be $10.7 billion that fiscal year.

The government will continue to focus on its priorities to further strengthen the economy and spur job creation.

Jobs and Prosperity

To help build a strong and diversified Ontario that enables business to invest in innovation, improve productivity and become more globally competitive, the government will:

  • Consolidate many business support programs into a Jobs and Prosperity Fund that will focus on productivity growth and job creation, while generating overall savings of $250 million in 2014-15
  • Establish a multi-stakeholder Jobs and Prosperity Council to advise the government on a plan to boost Ontario's productivity, and lead a research agenda on Ontario's productivity and innovation
  • Diversify Ontario's exports to emerging economies by streamlining and coordinating the trade promotion activities of relevant ministries.


Knowledge and Skills

The government will continue to build on its plan to have the world's best-educated workforce to ensure future prosperity in the knowledge-based economy by:

  • Fully implementing full-day kindergarten by September 2014
  • Keeping a cap on class sizes in the early grades
  • Remaining committed to the 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant for eligible full-time undergraduate university and college students
  • Further integrating training programs across government to make them more responsive to today's job market.


Transforming Health Care

The government will build on Ontario's Action Plan for Health Care to create a sustainable and high-quality health care system by:

  • Transforming health care to reduce the rate of growth of spending to an average of 2.1 per cent annually over the next three years
  • Enhancing community-based care to treat patients in alternative settings such as non-profit clinics and at home instead of in hospitals, where appropriate
  • Moving to patient-centred funding models to improve the value and quality of care.


"We are making the right choices to ensure that Ontario families are receiving the best possible services and the best value for tax dollars. All of us have a role to play in balancing the budget."

 – Dwight Duncan
Minister of Finance

"Building a stronger Ontario requires strong action. We will make the right choices to protect the vital gains we have made together. When we make these choices, we will choose protecting education and health care — every single time."

 – Dwight Duncan
Minister of Finance


  • As a result of measures proposed in the 2012 Budget, Ontario's accumulated deficit would be $22.1 billion lower in 2014-15 than if no action was taken.
  • For every dollar in new revenues outlined in the 2012 Budget, there are four dollars of savings and cost-containment measures.
  • Measures to reduce program spending by a cumulative $17.7 billion over the next three years, compared to what it would have otherwise been, include:
    • $4.9 billion in planned savings from removing overlap and duplication, implementing more efficient delivery models and focusing on core business
    • $6 billion in government actions to restrain compensation for school boards, payments to physicians and public servants
    • $6.8 billion to contain costs across the broader public sector.
  • Ontario's economy is projected to grow at 1.7 per cent in 2012, 2.2 per cent in 2013 and 2.4 per cent in 2014.
  • In 2011, more than 121,000 jobs were created in Ontario — with full-time employment increasing by 123,400.
  • The cost of servicing Ontario's debt is approximately $10 billion, the third-largest annual expense behind health care and education. To put this in perspective, Ontario spends more on interest each year than on colleges and universities.
  • For every one per cent increase in interest rates, the cost to service the debt increases by $467 million in the first year of the increase. If no action is taken to balance the budget, Ontario would pay almost as much to service the debt in 2017-18 as it spends on education today.
  • In February 2012, the Conference Board of Canada suggested that if no action was taken to control growth in spending, Ontario's deficit could be $16 billion by 2017-18. Using similar assumptions, the Commission on the Reform of Ontario's Public Services estimated that the deficit could be as high as $30 billion.
  • In 2011-12, Ontario's per capita program spending is projected to be $8,560. This is the lowest among the provinces and 11 per cent below the average spent across the other nine provincial governments.
  • Ontario delivers government services with the lowest per-capita number of provincial public servants.


  • Aly Vitunski
    Minister’s Office

  • Scott Blodgett
    Ministry of Finance

    TTY: 1-800-263-7776

Ministry of Finance


FAQ: Flow Through Shares

FW: A New Dimension for Solar Energy THINK HIGH ARCTIC ON THIS ONE

A New Dimension for Solar Energy
By Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyTuesday, March 27, 2012 Get the
latest product design news and headlines - Sign up now!

Digg Delicious Google It furl It Technorati Email Print  Share
[-] Text [+]  
Read/Post Comments

Intensive research around the world has focused on improving the performance
of solar photovoltaic cells and bringing down their cost. But very little
attention has been paid to the best ways of arranging those cells, which are
typically placed flat on a rooftop or other surface, or sometimes attached
to motorized structures that keep the cells pointed toward the sun as it
crosses the sky.

Now, a team of MIT researchers has come up with a very different approach:
building cubes or towers that extend the solar cells upward in
three-dimensional configurations. Amazingly, the results from the structures
they've tested show power output ranging from double to more than 20 times
that of fixed flat panels with the same base area.

The biggest boosts in power were seen in the situations where improvements
are most needed: in locations far from the equator, in winter months and on
cloudier days. The new findings, based on both computer modeling and outdoor
testing of real modules, have been published in the journal Energy and
Environmental Science.

"I think this concept could become an important part of the future of
photovoltaics," says the paper's senior author, Jeffrey Grossman, the Carl
Richard Soderberg Career Development Associate Professor of Power
Engineering at MIT.


The MIT team initially used a computer algorithm to explore an enormous
variety of possible configurations, and developed analytic software that can
test any given configuration under a whole range of latitudes, seasons and
weather. Then, to confirm their model's predictions, they built and tested
three different arrangements of solar cells on the roof of an MIT laboratory
building for several weeks.

While the cost of a given amount of energy generated by such 3D modules
exceeds that of ordinary flat panels, the expense is partially balanced by a
much higher energy output for a given footprint, as well as much more
uniform power output over the course of a day, over the seasons of the year,
and in the face of blockage from clouds or shadows. These improvements make
power output more predictable and uniform, which could make integration with
the power grid easier than with conventional systems, the authors say.

The basic physical reason for the improvement in power output — and for the
more uniform output over time — is that the 3D structures' vertical surfaces
can collect much more sunlight during mornings, evenings and winters, when
the sun is closer to the horizon, says co-author Marco Bernardi, a graduate
student in MIT's Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE).

The time is ripe for such an innovation, Grossman adds, because solar cells
have become less expensive than accompanying support structures, wiring and
installation. As the cost of the cells themselves continues to decline more
quickly than these other costs, they say, the advantages of 3D systems will
grow accordingly.

"Even 10 years ago, this idea wouldn't have been economically justified
because the modules cost so much," Grossman says. But now, he adds, "the
cost for silicon cells is a fraction of the total cost, a trend that will
continue downward in the near future." Currently, up to 65 percent of the
cost of photovoltaic (PV) energy is associated with installation, permission
for use of land and other components besides the cells themselves.

Although computer modeling by Grossman and his colleagues showed that the
biggest advantage would come from complex shapes — such as a cube where each
face is dimpled inward — these would be difficult to manufacture, says
co-author Nicola Ferralis, a research scientist in DMSE. The algorithms can
also be used to optimize and simplify shapes with little loss of energy. It
turns out the difference in power output between such optimized shapes and a
simpler cube is only about 10 to 15 percent — a difference that is dwarfed
by the greatly improved performance of 3D shapes in general, he says. The
team analyzed both simpler cubic and more complex accordion-like shapes in
their rooftop experimental tests.

At first, the researchers were distressed when almost two weeks went by
without a clear, sunny day for their tests. But then, looking at the data,
they realized they had learned important lessons from the cloudy days, which
showed a huge improvement in power output over conventional flat panels.

For an accordion-like tower — the tallest structure the team tested — the
idea was to simulate a tower that "you could ship flat, and then could
unfold at the site," Grossman says. Such a tower could be installed in a
parking lot to provide a charging station for electric vehicles, he says.

So far, the team has modeled individual 3D modules. A next step is to study
a collection of such towers, accounting for the shadows that one tower would
cast on others at different times of day. In general, 3D shapes could have a
big advantage in any location where space is limited, such as flat-rooftop
installations or in urban environments, they say. Such shapes could also be
used in larger-scale applications, such as solar farms, once shading effects
between towers are carefully minimized.

A few other efforts — including even a middle-school science-fair project
last year — have attempted 3D arrangements of solar cells. But, Grossman
says, "our study is different in nature, since it is the first to approach
the problem with a systematic and predictive analysis."


Click here to follow
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Solar water heaters use 1/3 energy, Progress Energy study finds | Electric Power News | Energy Central

say goodbye to panel production in the Western world


PHOTON: Global PV cell production grew to 37.2 GW in 2011

26.03.2012: Global PV cell production grew to an impressive 37.2 GW in 2011, according to a market survey by PHOTON International - The Solar Power Magazine, for a 36 percent increase over the 27.4 GW produced in 2010. But the annual survey also reveals a dramatic reduction in year-on-year growth. Compared to a record 120 percent jump in 2010, the 2011 cell output was the PV industry's lowest growth rate since a 34-percent increase in 2003. The survey also shows a continuation of Asian dominance, with six Chinese manufacturers in the top 10 - with Suntech Power in first place for the second year in a row - and two from Taiwan. For the first time since PHOTON International began surveying solar cell producers, the top 10 did not include any solar cell producers from Europe or Japan. "The days of solar cell production in western countries are numbered," says Michael Schmela, editor-in-chief of PHOTON International. "Like other commodities, solar cell production will continue its rapid shift to low-labor-cost countries in Asia, especially China." In 2008, only 33 percent of solar cells were made in China, a share that grew to an impressive over 57 percent in 2011. Source: PHOTON



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Silfab announces big efficiency gains

Silfab announces 21% efficiency for monocrystalline back-contact solar cells

26.03.2012: Italian solar cell and photovoltaic module producer Silfab SpA and German research institute ISC Konstanz announced that their “Zebra” monocrystalline back-contact solar cell has achieved a conversion efficiency of 21 percent. The results were achieved on monocrystalline silicon large area solar cells using a low-cost industrial process; however, Silfab does not say if an independent third party confirmed the results. Silfab says its Zebra manufacturing process will eventually lead to cells with a conversion efficiency of over 24 percent. The two entities expect to launch a pilot cell and module manufacturing line within the next few months. … Source: Silfab SpA; Summary: PHOTON

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



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Italians invading Ontario

North America

Elettronica Santerno expands to Ontario

26.03.2012: Through its US subsidiary Santerno Inc., Italian inverter producer Elettronica Santerno SpA, which is itself a subsidiary of the Carraro Group, has signed an agreement with US electronics manufacturer Sanmina-SCI Corp. under which Sanmina will manufacture Santerno solar inverters at its production plant in Ottawa, Ontario. The Canadian-made inverters will satisfy the province’s local content requirement. … Source: Elettronica Santerno SpA; Translation and summary: PHOTON

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



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Silicon bar stock supply is among the most important leading indicators

PHOTON Solar Terawatt-hours Conference Series 2012

Four more years


26.03.2012: The silicon sector’s woes are indeed as dire as you’ve been hearing. And there’s little relief in sight. That was the theme at PHOTON’s 10th Solar Silicon Conference, Monday in Berlin, where the dour industry outlook was reflected in the mood of the nearly 200 attendees. Leading industry and company representatives agreed that a massive supply overhang will only get worse this year, forcing prices down toward the cash cost to produce. Even after the likely bankruptcy of dozens of non-competitive players, the six or so largest producers will still have more than enough capacity to meet expected demand – for at least four more years. “Only a few solar silicon (producers) are likely to survive,” said Martin Meyers, of PHOTON Consulting. He thinks just 11 manufacturers will make it to 2013, with any company unable to produce for less than $30 per kg in danger of irrelevancy. There is 200,000 kg of supply that can be produced for less than that cost already, easily exceeding anticipated 2012 demand. “The days of $40 (per kg) contracts are gone,” says Goran Bye, CEO of LDK Silicon. Henning Wicht, a consultant with IHS iSuppli, predicts spot prices will fall to $22 per kg in 2012 – and stay there in 2013. “The overcapacity is not going away,” he says. Meyers says prices will range from the all-in cash cost, roughly $20 to $25 at industry leaders, to a ceiling of $35 for entrenched suppliers with established customers. A year ago, silicon sold for 2.5 times that upper figure. “The willingness to pay for silicon will never approach $80 to $100 again,” he says. That will be doubly true in 2012, as the solar sector gets set for its worst year of installation growth. Meyers predicts global installations will actually contract in 2012; Wicht says they will remain essentially flat at 27.5 GW or so. Either way, the 50 percent compound annual growth rates the industry has become accustomed to will not occur. That will lead to capacity reductions in silicon, with Meyers predicting roughly 25 percent of 2012 capacity not making it to the following year. “Plants that idle for 12 months have nearly zero chance of starting again,” Meyers said. He and Wicht both expect massive expansion plans announced by the largest companies – including Hemlock Semiconductor, Wacker Chemie and OCI – to be delayed, and in some instances, possibly scrapped. Source: PHOTON



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Monday, March 26, 2012

Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Photovoltaic Cells

Bottom line: mono is more costly to produce, but has higher productivity per square meter. Poly advantages are the inverse. The article below is a good basic primer.

Agency Releases Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines | EnergyBiz

FW: Large Investors Likely to Back Clean Energy If Tax Professional Let Them Know About It

20%284%29 News

Recently, we've reported that institutional investors like pension funds and
corporations are becoming important sources of capital for renewable energy

Investors are increasingly appreciating the reliable, steady returns they
can get by investing in a solar plant, for example, that's got a signed
contract to sell electricity to a utility for 20 years.

Buffet's energy arm, Midamerican, found that out when its bond offering to
finance a solar plant was wildly over-subscribed.

It turns out, however, that many of these potential investors don't hear
about this opportunity because tax professionals are generally unfamiliar
with the various tax incentives available to private investors in clean
energy projects.

Bloomberg conducted an online survey of subscribers to its BNA Tax and
Accounting Center, and found that although 35% of respondents have made tax
equity investments on behalf of clients in areas such as low-income housing,
the majority weren't aware they could also be made in clean energy.

65% of respondents said they were mostly or completely unfamiliar with
incentives available to investors of US wind projects known as the
Production Tax Credit (PTC).

Only 7% say they're extremely familiar with the PTC, which was used to
finance about 4,000 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity in 2011, or 70% of total
US wind installations, concludes Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

"These results suggest an information disconnect," says Michael
Liebreich, Bloomberg New Energy Finance CEO. "Tax equity investing today
offers backers of clean energy projects, based on proven technologies,
comparatively high risk-adjusted returns, given the current low
interest-rate environment. Apparently though, many in the tax community have
failed so far to spot the opportunity for their clients."

The US Department of Energy (DOE) hosted a meeting recently to inform chief
financial officers and others from Fortune 500 companies about opportunities
available to large corporations in clean energy tax equity investing.

This week the Senate voted down an amendment to the Transportation bill
which would have extended the PTC for another year, instead of letting it
expire at the end of 2012.

The boom and bust cycle for the PTC, approved for several years and then
allowed to expire, has been holding back growth of the US renewable energy

President Obama includes a permanent renewable energy PTC in his corporate
tax reform plan.

« previous news story» next news story

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

READ THIS: Investors Turning to Solar for High Returns

Florida's First Wind Farm Moves Forward | RenewablesBiz

See FPL’s logic in opposing this rather sketchy project and apply it to the situation of solar in the State.

Module Prices Resume Plunge

Module prices plunge

23.03.2012: According to the PHOTON price index, after a few weeks of relative stability, solar module prices on the German spot market dropped sharply last week. The average price for monocrystalline modules fell more than 6 percent to €0.76 ($1) per watt, while prices for multicrystalline modules shed more than 12 percent, dropping to €0.72 ($0.95) per watt. This is the lowest average price for multicrystalline modules seen in the past six months. All in all, module prices remain down about 45 percent from a year ago. The PHOTON editorial team calculates the price index on a weekly basis based on German spot market prices. The entire module price index, as well as indexes for other regions, cell technologies and inverters, is published on a regular basis in PHOTON International magazine. The Monday edition of the PHOTON newsletter includes only an excerpt from the various price indexes. … Source: PHOTON

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



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


IEA says tariff changes should never be retroactive

IEA director says cuts to incentives show renewable energy is coming of age

23.03.2012: In an article published in the European Energy Review, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Maria van der Hoeven, says the fact that various European governments are cutting incentives for renewable energies should not to be considered negative because it means “renewable energy is swiftly coming of age, reducing the need for public support.” However, Van der Hoeven warns that changes to incentive policies must be made in a transparent and predictable way and should never be retroactive. She also notes that changes to support policies should be carried out in close coordination with industry and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that the health of the market is maintained. Van der Hoeven goes on to say that renewables account for almost a fifth of all electricity produced worldwide despite the fact that they receive far less government support than fossil fuels: “Some $66 billion in economic incentives were spent worldwide on renewable energy in 2010, less than a fifth of the $409 billion in fossil-fuel subsidies the same year.” Speaking specifically about solar feed-in tariffs (FITs), Van der Hoeven said: “The incentives worked well. But in the case of the solar panels…they worked too well. After implementing feed-in tariffs, deployment of solar PV boomed in some countries at an unsustainable rate.” Van der Hoeven points out that since PV is rapidly approaching competitiveness with retail electricity prices, it’s only to be expected that governments have begun reducing public support. Also of interest, the IEA estimates that at least 32 percent of electricity produced worldwide will come from renewable sources by 2035. … Source: International Energy Agency (IEA); Summary: PHOTON

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



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


UK government loses FIT appeal on retroactive tariff changes

23.03.2012: The UK Supreme Court has refused to hear the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) appeal of a High Court ruling that said retroactive changes to the feed-in-tariff (FIT) scheme proposed by the DECC were illegal. The decision brings an end to the case, which means that the cutoff date for the old FIT rates can now be determined: small-scale solar installations completed before March 3, 2012 are eligible to receive the higher rate of 43.3 pence (68.9¢) per kWh. The original Dec. 2011 High Court decision said that the DECC’s plan to bring forward the cutoff date for the old FIT from April 1, 2012 to Dec. 12, 2011 was illegal because the proposed cutoff date fell in the middle of an ongoing public consultation on changes to the FIT scheme. The High Court decision was later upheld by the Court of Appeal, and now, with the Supreme Court decision, the case is finally closed. In response to this latest decision, DECC Secretary Edward Davey said: “We will now focus all our efforts on ensuring the future stability and cost effectiveness of solar and other microgeneration technologies for the many, not the few.” Meanwhile, solar panel installer Solarcentury, which launched the legal challenge against the DECC along with fellow installer HomeSun and environmental organization Friends of the Earth, was pleased with the decision, although it noted “jobs have already been lost in the solar industry…as a result of the Government’s illegal intervention.” Solarcentury Chairman Jeremy Leggett commented: “This final step in the legal process has wasted much needed time and money and now we, the renewables industry, simply want to get on with creating our clean energy future. Renewables can only play the pivotal role necessary to deliver a new green economy if we have a stable market and investor confidence backed by lawful, predictable and carefully considered policy. I hope the Government is now clear that it will be held to account if it tries to act illegally and push through unlawful policy changes.” … Source: UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, Solarcentury; Summary: PHOTON





Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Sunday, March 25, 2012

German Policy Could Make Solar in America "Wunderbar" | john-farrell-ilsr

Inter-American Development Bank Reports Increase in Renewable Investments | Renewable Energy News Article

Ontario Slashes FiT for Solar, Wind | Renewable Energy News Article

FW: Utilities Are Rapidly Adapting To Incorporate More Solar | Renewable Energy Video

Utilities Are Rapidly Adapting To Incorporate More Solar March 20, 2012
  |   1 Comment At PV America 2012, Jennifer Runyon facilitated a
conversation with experts in utility solar programs about the changing
landscape of utility solar.
2012 PV America, Sola
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Study: Renewable energy sources favored over coal, natural gas - Power Engineering

Monty Bannerman
ArcStar Energy

-----Original Message-----
From: Rebecca Van Nichols []
Sent: Saturday, March 24, 2012 11:37 PM
To: Monty Bannerman
Subject: Study: Renewable energy sources favored over coal, natural gas -
Power Engineering

Mar 20, 2012

The number of people backing U.S. development of renewables has decreased by
11 percent from March 2011, but many still believe alternative sources are
more important to a national energy policy than the production of coal and
natural gas.
According to a study from the Pew Research Center for the People and the
Press, 63 percent of respondents said they favored sources such as wind,
hydro and solar compared to 29 percent who wanted more oil, coal and natural
gas energy sources in March 2011. A year later, 52 percent of respondents
said they want more renewable production, compared to 39 percent who back
fossil fuels.
Respondents also support a broad range of energy policies, including more
funding for research on wind, solar and hydropower (69 percent). However,
they were divided on promoting the increased use of nuclear power (44
percent), and giving tax cuts to energy companies for oil and gas
exploration (46 percent).
Survey participants also said they do not know much about hydraulic
fracturing, but among those who are familiar with the process, more than
half are in favor of it.
To read the full report, click here. (PDF) Read more business policy news

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thousands of temperature records have been shattered in recent weeks.

European news: Ontario announces tariffs cuts for new solar projects by more than 20 percent

Ontario announces tariffs cuts for new solar projects by more than 20 percent


22.03.2012: Ontario’s Ministry of Energy announced that the Canadian province will lower feed-in-tariffs (FIT) for new solar projects by more than 20 percent. The government did not say when the cuts would be implemented, but it did say it would “act quickly.” Speaking about the results of Ontario’s two-year FIT program review, the ministry said it would “act quickly to implement all the recommendations” to ensure the long-term sustainability of the province’s renewable energy program. Among other things, the review calls for a simplified regulatory approvals process, and it asks the government to reserve capacity for local or Aboriginal communities and to invest in the province’s clean energy industry to ensure Canadian companies are able to compete globally. The review also calls for wind incentives to be cut by about 15 percent. A cut to solar tariffs was expected, but until now, the government had not indicated how large the reductions would be. The ministry did not say anything about changes to the province’s local content requirement – the WTO is currently investigating complaints from the EU and Japan about Ontario’s local content requirement. … Source: Canadian Ministry of Energy; Summary: PHOTON


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



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Germans revolt against FIT cuts. Government backs down


Germany expected to tone down cuts to FIT program after outcry from state governments

22.03.2012: After a massive outcry from German state governments, Germany’s federal government is expected to make significant changes to a draft bill that aims to reduce solar incentives. According to German news channel n-tv, the federal government is expected to scrap a provision that would have meant that only 90 percent of the electricity produced by a photovoltaic (PV) installation could receive the feed-in tariff (FIT). And while the cutoff date for the old FITs is expected to remain April 1, under the newly proposed changes to the draft bill, power plants that received authorization before March 1 would be eligible to receive the old FITs even if they are commissioned after April 1. The article also reports that the maximum annual reduction in the FIT, regardless of how much PV has been installed, would be fixed at 28 percent. Prime ministers from Germany’s 16 states will meet with the Chancellor’s office today to discuss changes to the FIT program. … Source: n-tv; Translation and summary: PHOTON



Monty Bannerman

ArcStar Energy


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

GAO Issues Report on DOE Loan Guarantees | Troutman Sanders LLP

Canada emerging as a nearby energy giant | PRI.ORG

FW: Confronting The VP May Be Impolite. Is It A Crime?



If you want to know which version of the story is true, check where the secret service agent is working now.

Confronting The VP May Be Impolite. Is It A Crime?
by Nina Totenberg

- March 21, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a case involving the arrest of a Colorado man who was thrown in jail after telling Vice President Cheney in 2006 that the Bush Administration's policies in Iraq were "disgusting."

Environmental consultant Steven Howards is suing the Secret Service agents who arrested him, contending that the arrest violated his First Amendment rights because it was nothing more than retaliation for the views he expressed to the vice president. The case pits the need for protecting public officials against the rights of citizens to express their views to the people elected to represent them.

What makes this case doubly fascinating is the fact that even the Secret Service agents involved in the arrest do not agree on what happened. The agents who actually saw the encounter testified they saw no threatening action.

In contrast, the agent who made the arrest, Virgil Reichle, accused the others of covering up, and some of Reichle's fellow agents have testified that he asked them to change their reports to match his. All have acknowledged that if any of these accusations is true, it would amount to a crime under federal law.

Most of what happened that day in 2006 is no longer in dispute. Steven Howards had just dropped off his eight-year-old son at a piano lesson in Beaver Creek, Colo., when he saw Vice President Cheney standing in the open shopping area near the ski lift, shaking hands and talking to people.

"I walked up to him and told him that I thought his policies in Iraq were disgusting, and I walked away, and then I left and picked up my child at piano camp," says Howards.

About ten minutes later, Howards was back in the area, but had become separated from his son. The agents, who didn't know Howards had lost track of his son, said they saw him looking anxious.

Agent Reichle of the Denver office went over to Howards and asked if he would answer a few questions about his conversation with Cheney. Howards said no and told Reichle that if he didn't want people accosting Cheney, he should "keep Cheney out of public places."

"The Secret Service agent got furious," Howards says, adding that he quickly found himself handcuffed "with my hands behind my back and I was being charged with felony assault of the vice president."

Though Howards initially told Reichle he had not touched the vice president, after reflecting on the encounter, he later conceded that he was wrong. He says he patted the vice president on the shoulder, meaning no harm. The Secret Service has since variously described Howards as having patted Cheney with an open palm, or hit him on the shoulder with an open palm.

"If there would have been some threat to the vice president, I would have been down in the pavement when the interaction occurred, not arrested ten minutes later," says an incredulous Howards.

In any event, Howards was taken to the Eagle County jail in handcuffs and held there until his wife bailed him out. A week later the local district attorney dropped the charges, but Howards wasn't dropping the matter.

"The more I thought about it, the madder I got. My picture was in the paper. I was depicted as a criminal, my name was tarnished," Howards says. "The issue is that this is retaliation for what I said to the vice president. It wasn't based upon any threat or any other impropriety."

So Howards sued the Secret Service agents, contending he was engaged in his constitutionally protected right to express himself to an elected official. The Denver-based federal appeals court ruled that the agents had sufficient grounds for taking Howards into custody, but the court also ruled that there was sufficient evidence to allow Howards to continue with his claim of retaliatory arrest.

Indeed, in depositions taken in 2007, the Secret Service agents directly contradicted each other. Reichle, the agent who made the arrest, did not himself witness Howard's encounter with Vice President Cheney. He testified that agents assigned to the vice president had told him that Howards made "unsolicited physical contact that was perceived in an aggressive and threatening nature."

But two other agents who actually witnessed the encounter between Howards and Cheney, did not support Reichle's account of threatening behavior, and they said Reichle had asked them to change their reports to comport with Reichle's version of events. Reichle has since been transferred to Guam.

Reichle, in his deposition, said he believed his fellow agents changed their story to avoid inconveniencing the vice president with a court case. "You would think if it was some sort of misunderstanding, somebody would have tapped me on the shoulder and said: 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, [Virgil], slow down. What you think happened isn't what happened,'" Reichle testified. "At no point did that happen."

But Daniel McLaughlin, one of the agents who did witness the encounter, said he did see Howards touch the vice president, but that there was no threatening or aggressive behavior. He testified that Reichle, in order to justify the arrest, had called him hours after the incident because he wanted McLaughlin to say there had been an assault. But McLaughlin refused to change his original report.

"Did you believe that Agent Reichle was telling you in essence, 'I want you to commit the crime of making false statements in an officially filed Secret Service document?'" asked David Lane, the lawyer for Howards.

"When he made the phone call, that's what I — I interpreted it as, that was unethical," McLaughlin responded. Pressed further, he conceded that the Reichle's request was more than unethical. Was it illegal? "Yes sir," replied McLaughlin.

McLaughin's account of the incident was supported by another agent on the scene, Adam Daniels, who said there had been contact, but no assault. A third agent, Dan Doyle, who was Richle's office-mate, sided with Reichle, and a fifth agent said he was not close enough to see.

Nationwide, the courts are divided on whether law enforcement officers can be sued for retaliatory arrest if there arguably were grounds for the arrest in the first place, the grounds here being that Howards said initially said he didn't touch the vice president, when in fact, the agents agreed he did touch him.

In this case, the agents, backed by the Obama administration, are contending that in cases involving protection of the president and vice president in particular, law enforcement officers must make split-second decisions — and that their protective actions would be chilled if they could be sued for making the wrong call. They want immunity from lawsuits.

Howards counters that the essence of American democracy is the ability of its citizens to express their opinions to elected officials, and that if police officers cannot be held accountable for retaliatory arrests, the rights of citizens will be greatly inhibited. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

To learn more about the NPR iPhone app, go to

Sent from my iPod