In the first full week of August we learned that July was the hottest on record—ever, shattering previous heat records across the northern hemisphere. It was also one of the driest and sunniest, meaning all the solar being installed was generating longer, helping to reduce use of coal-fired power plants just a little more. Meanwhile new opportunities were being announced the world over, from Ascent Solar’s partnership with Foxconn—a major supplier of electronics for companies including Apple—to fast-tracked projects flying from the desk of President Obama and more.
First off, Colorado-based Ascent Solar partnered with Chinese electronics manufacturer Foxconn. The PV company will install its thin-film CIGS photovoltaics on Foxconn’s new manufacturing facility in Zhenzhou City, Henan Province of China. The company, which manufactures devices including laptop notebooks, Playstations, iPhones and more, may also look into Acsent Solar’s flexible PV to include on devices opening up a potentially huge market for the company.
Meanwhile President Obama just fast tracked 5 gigawatts of renewable energy projects in the U.S. West. Three gigawatts will be a wind project in Wyoming, the largest wind project in the world. The majority of them are solar projects in the U.S. Southwest. They were announced under a “We Can’t Wait” initiative, to get the announced projects in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Wyoming underway as soon as possible. The White House said it planned to announce more infrastructure projects in the coming weeks.
New York announced $30 million to support commercial photovoltaic projects and on top of that issued a request for proposals for $107 million more in such projects. The announcements were made through the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) NY-Sun Initiative to help businesses in New York go solar. However, there’s evidence that New York may have to do more for residential solar as at least one of its utilities, Central Hudson Gas & Electric has reached its net-metering requirement under New York’s Public Service Commission. The company is continuing to accept applications after homeowners and installers complained about the Central’s original decision to halt applications. So far Central is the only company that’s reached the 1 percent net-metering limit but others may be approaching.
In another potentially big market for solar in the U.S., the Army announced it’s plans to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for a multi-award task order contract (MATOC). Under the MATOC, the Army will develop a list of contractors throughout the country to build solar and renewable energy projects in their service territories. Through the process the Army plans to install 1 gigawatt of renewable energy—as do the other branches of the U.S.’s armed forces, the Air Force and Navy. However, the Army is the first branch of the U.S.’s armed forces to move forward with a MATOC
Last week the world’s largest concentrated solar project, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (Ivanpah SEGS), reached its halfway point in terms of construction. The 370 megawatt solar power tower project consists of three, 459-foot tall BrightSource towers, all of which are slated for completion in 2013. The projects will provide electricity to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) under two separate power-purchase agreements. The project also is at its zenith in terms of employment with 2,100 people working on the towers and heliostats.