The majority of solar news in the past year, and in recent months, has focussed on PV over solar thermal, but solar thermal is starting regain its footing as projects get underway. At the same time solar is continuing to grow domestically and internationally, with more interest coming from the Middle East and Africa.
SolarReserve’s 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes solar thermal project in Tonapah, Nev., touted its employment figures last week. The company said the project created 600, two-year jobs. The project is likely the largest single new employer in the state at this point. Solar’s also making some of the sunniest jobs out there.
For instance, Sungevity was just recognized as the best place to work by B Lab’s B Corporation ratings. Sungevity won the best of the best award in its “For the Workers” category.
The recently completed, and the Southeastern U.S.’s first solar thermal project, has been operational for a year. During the period, the project has had its issues, which led the plant to be turned off for four month. But Florida Power & Light said the issues have been worked out, and the plant is now fully operational. The system was dubbed as the world’s first solar hybrid plant, since it works with a natural gas-fired power plant.
The U.S. has largely shied away from the feed-in tariff as a means of incentivizing solar, but that may be changing. Recently Palo Alto, Calif., said it will launch a 4-megawatt feed-in tariff called CLEAN (Clean Local Energy Accessible Now). Under the program the local, municipal utility will pay up to 14 cents per kilowatt hour produced by solar via 20-, 15- or 10-year contracts.
The first state will soon host a new multi-megawatt PV project.The Delaware Electric Cooperative said it will install a 4-megawatt farm on 20 acres that it owns. The co-op is only developing PV on half of the 40-acre plot and may expand it in the future.
To further grow solar in Africa and the Middle East, CSP Today announced it will host the third annual Middle East and North Africa Solar Conference. The conference will bring together energy industry players in an attempt to help increase awareness of solar and the opportunity it represents for the region.
ESA Renewables is betting on solar in a big way. The company recently introduced a new insurance product, the Solar Production Guarantee. Under the guarantee, ESA will pay project owners the balance if a project fails to produce as much solar energy as promised. The contract is offered as a part of ESA’s operations & maintenance contracts.
Westinghouse Solar increased its bets on AC PV modules with the latest iteration of its integrated PV modules. The company’s newest modules take plug-and-play to a new level, with its new Instant Connect feature. They’re designed to make the installation of PV much easier, according to the company. The modules include microinverters racking and grounding, and can be fully installed on a roof within an afternoon.