Local and international news related to Renewable Energy. We'll try and keep you up to date!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Explosive Growth Reshuffles Top 10 Solar Ranking

The explosion of photovoltaics production across the globe completely reshuffled the top companies in Nomura Securities' annual ranking of the leading companies, knocking long established Japanese players out of the top spots and putting four Asian suppliers in the Top 10. Japan's leading solar companies outline their strategies for this changing market in this report from SST partner Nikkei Microdevices.

Fast growing Q-Cells AG became the world's largest solar cell maker in 2007, producing nearly 400 megawatts (MW) worth of product. Longtime solar industry leader Sharp found itself in second place as production slipped to roughly 370 MW, which the company blamed on a constrained supply of silicon. China's Suntech was close behind the leaders with more than 300 MW output, pushing Kyocera and its 200 MW to a distant third.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

1.6 Percent

On the face of it, the Indian wind energy sector is booming. Installed wind power capacity has increased six-fold in the last seven years—from 1,338 mw in 2000-01 to 8,754 mw in 2007-08. In the last three years alone, about 5,150 mw has been added. As on March 31 this year, wind power accounted for 6.1 per cent of the total installed capacity to generate power in India.

The biggest challenge for the wind-power industry in India is to come to terms with the need to generate more power and to accurately account for it.
mnre collates data on the installed wind energy capacity, but most experts believe its data on wind power generation is questionable. The Central Electricity Authority does not collect data on wind power generation either. From the data mnre provides, adding capacity has not converted to actual power generation.

The average plant load factor, getting better, is still around 15 per cent. As a result, even as wind power generation has increased from 1,577 million units (mu) in 2000-2001 to 11,413 mu in 2007-2008, it accounts for a meagre 1.6 per cent of all power generated.

Moreover, industry is worried about stagnation in installation. Write Mahesh Vipradas and Niraj Kumar of the Indian Wind Energy Association, in their recent assessment of the sector: “The annual installation in 2007-08 is the lowest in the last three years, making us ask: is this the beginning of the end of the Indian wind success story?” They believe policy measures enacted in the past have had their run of success. Now, more steps are needed to re-energise the sector.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

India Builds Solar: A BIPV First

India's first green housing project facilitated with building-integrated solar power has been developed in a new district of Kolkata. Both environmentally and economically attractive, this project acts as a trailblazer for the rapidly developing country. Jaideep Malaviya reports.

The burden of combating global warming is not restricted to developed countries and many developing countries have shown their commitment to moving towards a more sustainable, low-carbon economy.

A good example of this type of commitment comes from India's West Bengal region, where the country's first housing complex using roof-integrated photovoltaics has recently been completed.

The policy behind the Rabi Rashmi Abasan project, which in the local Bengali language means ‘solar ray-based dwelling', was the brainchild of S. P. Gon Choudhary, managing director of the West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation Limited (WBGEDCL), a state government-backed renewable energy undertaking.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Algae: Biofuel of the Future?

In the world of alternative fuels, there may be nothing greener than pond scum. Algae are tiny biological factories that use photosynthesis to transform carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy so efficiently that they can double their weight several times a day.

As part of the photosynthesis process algae produce oil and can generate 15 times more oil per acre than other plants used for biofuels, such as corn and switchgrass. Algae can grow in salt water, freshwater or even contaminated water, at sea or in ponds, and on land not suitable for food production.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Silicon Rally

FOR 40 years or so, the price of solar panels fell steadily, as volumes grew and technology improved. But in 2004 Germany enormously increased subsidies for solar power, prompting a surge in demand. The supply of pure silicon, the main component of most solar cells, did not keep pace. Its price rose from $25 a kilogram in 2003 to as much as $250 this year, abruptly halting the downward march in the price of panels. If making energy from sunlight is ever to become as cheap as burning fossil fuels, the price of silicon will have to fall.

Happily, it seems likely to do so soon. Silicon producers, whose biggest customers were always chipmakers, have been slow to cater to the solar industry. They were scarred by the memory of the technology bust of 2001, which had weighed them down with excess capacity, and so delayed expansion—despite the boom in solar. Moreover, it takes three years or so to get a new plant going, so new silicon supplies are only just beginning to materialise.

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