This week marks an important milestone in the development of a robust solar industry in the US. The Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) and the Solar Alliance have merged to form one voice advocating for policies that advance solar deployment in the US.
SEIA traditionally focused on federal legislative and regulatory policy which drives solar deployment like clean energy standards, the Investment Tax Credit for renewable energy generation and the loan guarantee programs for renewable energy projects. Meanwhile, the Solar Alliance was a state based organization, working to advance renewable energy standards and incentive programs at the state level as well as ensuring that appropriate net metering policies and renewable energy credit mechanisms are in place to allow solar markets to flourish.
With the merger, the two entities will now speak with one strong and consistent voice about the jobs created by growing domestic solar energy, the advances the industry has made in cost reduction, and the value of including solar in the US’s energy generation mix.
At this time of year, when many of us will be traveling to visit families--either by plane, train or automobile, it is worth reflecting upon one of the United States’ seminal pieces of environmental legislation, the Clean Air Act.
The Clean Air Act, established in 1970, is celebrating its 41st anniversary this December 17.
In 1970, California’s population was only 20 million. During that same decade, in 1975, the Los Angeles basin recorded 118 Stage 1 smog alerts. By 1980 the state’s population had reached 24 million and 17 million automobiles racked up over 155 billion vehicle miles (!) By 2010 our population reached over 38 million, a doubling from 1970, but many air quality statistics demonstrate some remarkable improvements: the number of smog alerts in the South Coast has fallen by over 95% and some years have seen zero such incidents; emissions of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons from cars are down 200,000 tons from the peak in 1990 despite vehicle miles growing to 280 billion miles annually.
Cell manufacturers worldwide, are in the process of transitioning to advanced cell structures in order to boost cell efficiencies and drive down the cost per watt. The photovoltaic (PV) learning curve has traditionally seen a 20% decline in module prices for every doubling of total installed modules. While this rate of reduction has primarily been driven by scale, we are now at a point where cell efficiency will become crucial in accelerating cost reduction.
It’s time to ponder a rational comparison of historical U.S. energy incentives. In a thoughtful analysis called “What Would Jefferson Do?” authors Nancy Pfund and Ben Healey of DBL Investors offer some revealing insight to inform the debate.
There is no free market in energy … and calls to action for renewables “to stand up to competition without any government support” would be better informed by a look at historical efforts to promote energy transitions in the U.S.
Coal, oil, gas and nuclear energy did not emerge as fully matured, low cost energy sources. Instead, they were the beneficiaries of decades of permanent and significant federal government incentives and supportive regulation. As part of a larger push to create jobs, support expansion, and fuel economic growth, the U.S. government has used a variety of financial and regulatory incentives to support energy innovation for over 200 years.
Newsweek made some significant changes to the ranking methodology this year and, consequently there was quite a bit of musical chairs in the results. One change in the methodology that undoubtedly proved important was the elimination of a reputation score and the addition of a disclosure score (evaluating the breadth and quality of company environmental reporting).
Applied Materials announced the appointment of Aninda Moitra as Country President for Applied Materials India, responsible for overseeing alignment, coordination and execution of Applied’s business, operational and strategic activities in the country.
The energy and semiconductor industries in India offer many opportunities for growth. As the world's leading supplier of manufacturing solutions for the semiconductor and solar industries, Applied Materials can help India achieve success in these markets, in particular the solar space.
Thunder storms and muggy weather didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the Solar Decathletes in Washington, DC last week. The teams representing 19 universities from around the world competed to build the most energy efficient, affordable and attractive solar-powered home – not easy given the conditions!
As solar fabs expand and leverage their scale and manufacturing capacity, one of the major challenges manufacturers face is achieving greater operational efficiency to lower costs. Implementing productivity and manufacturing efficiency programs can help. I’ve met with several solar manufacturers from around the globe and have seen firsthand how they use and benefit from these types of programs.
Proudly sporting their university colors, 19 teams opened the front doors of their solar-powered homes to the public for the first time last week at the official launch of Solar Decathlon 2011 – a biannual competition managed by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Recently, Japan’s Parliament passed an aggressive national feed-in-tariff (FiT) for renewable energy, positioning itself as the next large growth market for renewable energy. The new energy law calls for 30,000 megawatts of renewable energy to be deployed over the next ten years.
Feed-in-tariffs have been remarkably effective in accelerating renewable energy deployment, because they enable long term planning and financial models that more easily attract investment. China’s national wind feed-in-tariff powered the country to world leadership in wind energy production. Likewise, Germany – Japan’s global competitor in heavy machinery, autos, and steel – has used a system of feed-in-tariffs since 2000, making the country the world leader in renewable energy deployment.
Applied Materials launched its new Applied Baccini® Pegaso™ solar cell manufacturing platform today. The Pegaso system represents the new state of the art in solar cell manufacturing and will help to drive the solar industry into the future.
But that’s not why I’m posting this video. I’m posting it because the Pegaso system is one of the most elegant pieces of machinery I’ve ever seen.
At the expo, Applied Materials announced a wafering deal that was recently signed with Birla Surya Ltd., a venture of the Yash Birla Group to develop the first ever Wafering and Cell manufacturing facility in Satara, Maharashtra. Additionally, company executives met with various potential customers and gave remarks.
Let’s face it, inspiration is some time’s hard to come by in the business world. Thankfully there are programs like the Global Social Business Incubator at Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology and Society. Having just returned from listening to several of this year’s business plan presentations, I am thoroughly inspired with the good works I heard described.
One of the most important technical conferences for the solar industry, the 26th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference (EU PVSEC), will take place this year in Hamburg, Germany. The conference is expected to attract more than 900 companies and solar organizations from around the world. Additionally, timing of this year’s 26th EU PVSEC coincides with the European Commission’s plan to announce new initiatives to foster innovation in key energy technologies.
As the world’s #1 provider of solar PV equipment, Applied Materials will once again participate in this year’s EU PVSEC September 5-8th and will discuss new product announcements, advanced solar manufacturing techniques and technology, as well as participate in a number of technical visual and oral presentations.
The accepted proposal for 'Modular Process Equipment for Low Cost Manufacturing of High Capacity Prismatic Li-Ion Cell' Alloy Anodes aims to develop a new class of high-capacity lithium battery anodes based on an innovative micro-cell porous 3D Cu – Li alloy structure. The technology holds great potential to enable the development of advanced manufacturing prototype modules for fabricating high-capacity Li-ion electrodes in large quantities at a lower cost for vehicle lithium ion batteries.
On August 1, 2011, the China National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced a national feed-in tariff (FiT) for solar PV. Although details are still being released, the plan looks like a serious first step toward unleashing significant demand for solar PV in China.
Last week I attended the Aspen Institute’s annual Clean Energy Economy Roundtable, from July 21–24, 2011 in Colorado to participate in conference discussions that focused on policy tools needed to further accelerate the clean energy economy while highlighting innovations in clean-tech policy, renewable energy and financing already underway.
Now, here’s an interesting fact. In addition to reducing your electricity bills and enhancing the value of your house by an average of $17,000, putting solar on your roof actually keeps your house cooler. That’s according to a research team led by Jan Kleissl, a professor of environmental engineering at the University of California, San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.
Typically, the sun beats down onto a roof, pushing heat through the roof and inside the ceiling of a building. But when solar panels are in place, the panels take the direct hit of the sun and filter the heat. The effect is even greater when the panels are mounted and tilted, allowing air to circulate below the panel and further dissipate the heat. The researchers determined that solar panels reduce the heat reaching the roof by 38%, making the building’s ceiling five degrees cooler under solar panels than under exposed roof.
The countdown is on! In less than three months, hundreds of college students from 19 universities will descend on Washington, DC to spend night and day building solar-powered homes -- all for the glory of being chosen as the team to best blend affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency into their creation.
It is my privilege to represent Applied Materials as one of four co-chairs of the California Clean Cars Campaign. The Campaign’s diverse members believe that bringing the next generation of advanced, clean cars into the driveways of California families will save consumers money, reduce air pollution, and support new jobs and investment in the state’s clean energy economy.
The Campaign is presently urging the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to negotiate new carbon pollution and federal mileage standards with the Federal government that are tough enough to continue propelling the clean economy forward, that will prevent pollution and will protect public health.