There are hundreds of solar power news stories a day. We can’t cover the vast majority of them. Below are a few top solar power stories that we didn’t quite cover but thought shouldn’t be missed. Enjoy.
Largest solar PPA in South America
First Solar gets 2-gigawatt solar panel order from Leeward Renewable Energy
First Solar is one of the few giant solar PV companies that has survived in the past two decades, and it’s still rolling. US-based Leeward Renewable Energy has been a good patriotic supporter of the thin-film solar PV manufacturer, too. By 2028, with this new 2-gigawatt order scheduled for 2026–2027, the company’s total fleet of First Solar modules in the field will come to almost 6 gigawatts.
“Designed and developed at its R&D centers in California and Ohio, First Solar’s advanced thin film PV modules set industry benchmarks for quality, durability, reliability, design, and environmental performance. The modules have the lowest carbon and water footprint of any commercially available PV technology today.” Read more here.
Community Solar for New York
More community solar power — always an inspiring topic — is coming to New York. A 22 megawatts community solar farm is being built as you read this in the western portion of New York State for approximately 4,000 New York residents. “All four projects will provide discounted electricity bills for over 4,000 low-to-middle income residents and are expected to reach completion by Q4 of 2023,” CS Energy and CVE North America, the project developers, note. The project is using Solar FlexRack solar trackers.
New York is currently the #1 state in the country for community solar power, a fast growing segment of the solar market that is expected to double in installed capacity between 2023 and 2027. Read more here.
American solar manufacturers concerned US IRA tax credits will only reinforce China’s solar production dominance
This one’s a little bit more complicated. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is supposed to stimulate more cleantech manufacturing in the US, including solar panel and other solar equipment manufacturing. Some American solar tech manufacturers, however, are concerned it will lead to even greater Chinese solar manufacturing dominance. “In the case of the solar industry, some American manufacturers were disappointed to learn that panels will qualify for the 10 percent tax credit even if a crucial component in them, polysilicon wafers, does not come from the United States,” the Washington Post writes.
The situation is, at the moment, China produces about 95% of the polysilicon wafers used in solar cells and panels. You can’t just snap your fingers and have that whole manufacturing ecosystem appear in a region of two of the USA. So, what’s the most effective step forward? Opinions vary within the US solar industry. Some manufacturers and activists just want more solar panels built in the US and think we should look past the sources of the components. Others think you’ve got to do the hard work sooner or later if you want a full manufacturing industry, and better to start sooner. “Today’s announcement will likely result in the scaling back of planned investments in the critical areas of solar wafer, ingot, and polysilicon production,” says Mike Carr, executive director of the Solar Energy Manufacturers for America Coalition. “As long as the U.S. does not have an end-to-end solar manufacturing supply chain of all the core components of a solar panel, there is more work to be done.”
Naturally, solar installers mostly just want cheaper solar panels that get more people to install solar sooner.
Where do you fall on this debate?
1,500 solar manufacturing jobs for Oklahoma
On that topic … international energy giant Enel reportedly aims to bring 1,500 solar panel manufacturing jobs to Oklahoma, but is trying to get Governor Kevin Stitt to sweeten the deal for them, as is customary in these kinds of big manufacturing plans.
“Enel North America is eying the Tulsa Port of Inola as a potential site for the plant,” according to a local newspaper. “State economic development officials have named efforts to recruit Enel ‘Project Sirius.’” Read more here.
Ascent Solar making several big moves
You could count these as several individual stories, but we’ll roll them all up together as one. Imagine me taking a deep breath and then racing through all of these:
- Ascent Solar has acquired the Swiss thin-film solar manufacturing equipment firm Flisom AG’s Zurich manufacturing assets. “The Company will continue to be headquartered in Thornton, CO and will commence manufacturing using its new 15MW roll-to-roll thin-film manufacturing assets in Zurich, CH immediately,” Ascent Solar wrote in April.
- The company also brought in $9 million in financing from Lucro Investments VCC and $5 million in financing from BD1 Holdings.
- Ascent Solar then appointed a new CEO on May 2. The new CEO, Paul Warley, was the CFO of the company previously and is remaining as CFO in the interim while a replacement is found. This follows former President and CEO Jeffrey Max being terminated at the end of April.
- Back in mid-April, Ascent Solar launched “a new line of easy to integrate Space Hardware Development Kits (HDKs) at the Space Foundation Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado.” This is built on previous work with major space agencies. “Ascent’s new offer packages technologies and approaches, matured previously in collaborations with NASA and JAXA, into easy to consume HDKs that simplify the design and integration of solar power generation, accelerate mission schedules and boost spacecraft performance while delivering significant mass efficiencies.”
- In mid-March, Ascent Solar “commissioned its Thornton manufacturing facility as a Perovskite Center of Excellence (COE). Effective immediately, the facility is now dedicated to the industrial commercialization of Ascent’s patent-pending Perovskite solar technologies that are demonstrating lab efficiencies above 20%, comparable with rigid solar panels.” Will Ascent Solar be a leader in bringing perovskite solar tech to scale? “We’re fortunate that we have a manufacturing facility of this scope that we can dedicate to developing and delivering innovative Perovskite solar PV at scale,” said Jeffrey Max, then President and CEO of Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. “The recently announced proposed acquisition of European manufacturing assets would, if completed, increase our core manufacturing capacity by an order of magnitude, enabling us to continue meeting customer demand. This global production provides us with the near-term flexibility to make this significant investment in taking Perovskite gains from lab to fab. When translated to industrial scale, the efficiency gains we’ve recorded in the lab will be a game changer for the solar industry.” One does wonder why Mr. Max ended up getting terminated little more than a month later.
The 2023 Solar Decathlon winners are …
The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced the winners of the 21st annual Solar Decathlon. “The annual collegiate contest challenges the next generation of building professionals to design and construct high-performance, low-carbon buildings powered by renewable energy, while promoting student innovation, STEM education, and workforce development opportunities in the buildings industry.” Check out the winners here.
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