Friday 14 August 2009

CPRS voted down, so pass the Renewable Energy Target now

Clean Energy Council
13 August 2009

Both major parties need to put politics aside and cut the Renewable Energy Target (RET) bill free from the defeated CPRS for immediate passage or risk catastrophic damage to and job losses in Australia's emerging clean energy industry. The Rudd Government was elected nearly two years ago promising a 45,000 GWH or 20 per cent renewable energy target (RET) by 2020. Nearly two years later that promise remains unfulfilled.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Matthew Warren said this delay is now costing the clean energy industry more than $2 million a week. The price of renewable energy certificates (RECs) saw a sharp fall following the Senate's deferral of the RET bill in June and have stayed low, wiping millions off the value of existing renewable energy projects.

"Orders for solar PV have evaporated and staff are now being laid off or are idle in clean energy companies across an industry which is supposed to be gearing up to deliver 20 per cent of Australia's electricity in 11 years time," Mr Warren said. "This is an emerging industry that cannot bear these costs any longer. It is incomprehensible that the frontline response to the decarbonisation of Australia's energy market is being allowed to atrophy in this fashion."

The RET will unleash around $28 billion of new investment and along with energy efficiency strategies will create more than 28,000 new clean jobs in Australia. A recent survey by Newspoll commissioned by the CEC found 89 per cent of Australians want more renewable energy and increased government efforts to stimulate investment.

"The RET bill needs to pass, and quickly," Mr Warren said. "The time for political games is over. The bill needs to be amended immediately to de-couple it from the CPRS. This is a simple amendment." "The clean energy industry asks both major parties to put political point scoring aside and support the swift and streamlined passage of an expanded renewable energy target in Australia." "This is not novel policy. Australia has had a renewable energy target since 2001."

The proposed RET legislation only requires one other simple amendment to deliver the expanded target: the adjustment of the target to account for creation of the multiple RECs under the proposed Solar Credits scheme. The Clean Energy Council is meeting with key government representatives in the coming days to discuss the RET passage.

Contest features newest advances in solar energy
August 12, 2009

The Department of Energy is gearing up for the annual Solar Decathlon contest, which will be held on the National Mall in Washington D.C, in October. Students from Virginia Tech are among those who have been highlighting the house they constructed for the contest, which will also feature entries from about 20 other educational institutions. The Virginia Tech entry is called the Lumenhaus and students have created a website to highlight its technological features. For example, along with deriving 100% of its energy from solar energy, the house has a variety of features that further optimize its performance.

The house is designed to automatically respond to changes in the environment while also using passive energy and radiant energy systems. The design of the house also allows it to take considerable advantage of natural light with glass walls in some parts of the structure. The Lumenhaus also features a photovoltaic solar energy roof array along with a meter that keeps track of energy information throughout the day.

Wave Power Setbacks in California
August 12, 2009

Stroll through San Francisco and you can't miss Pacific Gas and Electric's latest ad campaign. Posters plastered around town read: "Wave Power: Bad for sandcastles. Good for you." But P.G.& E, recently dropped one of its two 40-MW wave-farm projects planned for the Northern California coast, according to documents filed with the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission.

"During the past year, P.G.& E, undertook agency consultation and public outreach and commenced an examination of the technical and environmental feasibility of the proposed project," Annette Faraglia, an attorney for the utility, wrote in a June 9 letter to the commission. "Based on the results of this examination, P.G.& E, has concluded that the harbor at Fort Bragg, Noyo Harbor, is not suitable for certain aspects of the project."

In 2007, the utility had applied for federal permits to explore the feasibility of placing wave energy generators in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Humboldt and Mendocino counties. The scuttling of the Mendocino project is just the latest setback for wave power. Last year, California regulators also declined to approve a P.G.& E, contract to buy a small amount of electricity from a Northern California wave farm to be built by Finavera Renewables, on the grounds the project was not viable.

Despite the difficulties, P.G.& E, is pushing forward with a similar wave project in Humboldt county. The utility has cut that project's size to 18 square miles from 136 square miles as it zeroes in on the most productive areas of the ocean. Jana Morris, a P.G.& E, spokeswoman, said that the utility expects to file a draft pilot license application for the project in the spring of 2010.

However, the National Marine Fisheries Service has identified a plethora of protected species that may be affected by the Humboldt project, ranging from endangered coho salmon to the northern elephant seal and the long-beaked common dolphin.

Ms. Morris said that local opposition to wave energy projects did not influence the utility's decision to halt its Mendocino project. But a different proposed wave project in Mendocino, a 100-MW farm to be developed by a company called GreenWave Energy Solutions, has drawn opposition from residents, environmentalists and fishing organizations concerned about its impact on the coast.

Russian Energy Project
11 August,2009

GE Energy is shipping its 100th 6FA gas turbine from Belfort, France to a new combined heat and power (CHP) plant in the city of Kurgan in Russia. The announcement was made at a ceremony celebrating the shipment of the 100th 6FA gas turbine. Intertechelectro-New Generation, an independent power producer based in Moscow, will be the owner-operator of the Kurgan plant, while PSG-International, an engineering, procurement and construction (company) is developing the project along with CJSC Intertechelectro.

Artyom Elbrusovich Bikov, chairman of the board and co-owner of Intertechelectro-New Generation commented: "We are confident that the highly efficient, reliable 6FA gas turbine technology will be an excellent fit for the combined heat and power requirements of the Kurgan CHP plant. This project is another example of our commitment to invest in the modernisation of Russia's energy infrastructure, and enhance the reliability of the local energy supply."

Clean Coal A Water Hog
12 AUGUST, 2009

It's well documented that clean coal technologies (aka "New Generation Coal") require increased coal consumption to produce the additional energy required for processes related to reducing emissions, but often overlooked in the clean coal controversy is the issue of water.

A report entitled Water and the electricity generation industry: Implications of use, prepared for Australia's Water Commission and the Australian Government Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism warns that water-cooled, low-emission thermal power plants are likely to be significantly more water intensive than current coal-fired power plants.

The report states coal-fired power plants incorporating carbon capture and storage (CCS) could be one-quarter to one-third more water intensive. Furthermore, as solar thermal and geothermal power plants are likely to operate at lower thermal efficiencies than conventional coal-fired steam turbines, they are also likely to have a higher water intensity.

Water is already a precious resource in Australia and accounts for about 1.4 per cent of total national water consumption. In coal fired power stations water is used for generating steam to drive steam turbines, for cooling the exhaust steam and for other operations including ash disposal.

The report recommends that in light of the need to reduce carbon emissions and the impact on water demand for cooling in power stations, priority should be given to focusing research and development in Australia on water management and efficiency in electricity generation.

Dry cooling can reduce water consumption of thermal power stations by more than 90 per cent, but reduces the sent-out efficiency (the ratio of fuel consumed to energy sent out from a power station) of power plants by around two to three per cent and increases carbon dioxide emissions of coal-fired power plants by up to six per cent. This would also see an increased consumption of coal to make up for the shortfall in energy output.

Part of the solution to the water issue is already available - solar panel based solar farms, as these require no water whatsoever be consumed in the process of generating electricity.

Sunstroom to build 50 MW solar thermal plant in Spain
12 August 2009

Sunstroom Energy Investments, a designer, builder and operator of renewable energy plants, announces that it is planning to build a 50 MW solar thermal electricity plant in Saucedilla, Cáceres, in the Extremadura province of Spain. The Company aims to raise over EUR300m ($424m) to fund the project.

The Extremadura solar thermal park will cover a surface area of 271 hectares, and will be producing renewable electricity in one of the sunniest regions in the world. This park, called Thermostroom 1, will utilise a proven, highly efficient form of concentrating solar energy ("CSP") technology which harnesses parabolic mirrors to capture heat from the sun. The stored heat, in the form of steam, in turn drives a turbine to produce electricity.

In common with the Company's existing sites, Thermostroom 1 has full support from local municipalities and mayors. This political support already has helped Sunstroom to secure a lease on the site, along with outline planning, environmental and operational permits. Sunstroom has signed agreements with world-class technology suppliers, engineering partners and utility companies with experience of similar power plants, both in Spain and the USA.

Construction of Thermostroom 1 is expected to take 24 months and, once fully operational, it will generate a projected annual revenue of approximately EUR36m. The tariff paid by Sunstroom's utility partners for the project's renewable electricity output is guaranteed by Spanish law at 27.84 cents per kW (inflation proof) during the first 25 years of the installation, and then at 75 per cent of this level for the rest of the project life (approx. 40 years).

Iain Morrison, Managing Director of Sunstroom, commented: "We are confident that the Extremadura park will be yet another highly profitable project, generating consistent returns for our investors over its 40-year life."

Kenya bets big on wind energy
Aug 13th

Kenya is set to become the site of Africa's most ambitious venture in the battle against global warming when it builds Africa's biggest windfarm. With surging demand for power and incessant blackouts across the country, Kenya is looking to solar, wind and geothermal technologies to meet its energy needs. Some 365 giant wind turbines are to be installed around Lake Turkana, creating the biggest windfarm on the continent. When complete in 2012, the Sh67.158 billion project will produce nearly 300MW, a quarter of Kenya's current installed power capacity and one of the highest proportions of wind energy to be fed in a national grid anywhere in the world.

Commercial Value
To date, only North African countries such as Morocco and Egypt have harnessed wind energy for commercial purposes on any meaningful scale on the continent. Besides the Turkana project, which is being backed by the African Development Bank, private investors have proposed establishing a second windfarm near Naivasha.

In the Ngong Hills, Vestas, a Danish company has started putting up six 50m turbines which will add 5.1MW to the national grid from August. The work started in July with another dozen turbines to be added at the site in the next few years. The Dutch consortium behind the Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) project has leased 66,000 hectares of land on the eastern edge of the world's largest permanent desert lake.

Proven Reserves
The volcanic soil is scoured by hot winds that blow consistently year round through the channel between the Kenyan and Ethiopian highlands. According to LTWP, which has an agreement to sell its electricity to the Kenya Power & Lighting Company, the average wind speed is 11metres per second, something akin to 'proven reserves' in the oil sector, said Carlo Van Wageningen, chairman of the company.

"We believe that this site is one of the best in the world for wind," he said. If the project succeeds, the company estimates that there is the potential for the farm to generate a further 2,700MW of power, some of which could be exported. LTWP also plans to construct a 266-mile transmission line and several substations to connect the windfarm to the national grid. In a move aimed at benefiting local communities, the consortium has promised to supply electricity to the closest local towns, currently powered by generators.

Kenya's electricity is already green by global standards. Nearly three-quarters of KenGen's installed capacity comes from hydropower, and a further 11 per cent from geothermal plants, which tap into the hot rocks a mile beneath the Rift Valley to release steam to power turbines. Currently, demand for electricity far much outstrips its supply, a situation that has served to beat the purpose of rural electrification – a project otherwise meant to light up vast rural areas in the country.

Thursday 13 August 2009

New 'hot rocks' geothermal energy player

A NEW geothermal energy player is likely to test the icy capital markets with an initial public offering (IPO) this year, according to The Australian Financial Review. Granite Power, headed by former Sinosteel-Midwest Corp chief executive Stephen de Belle, is sounding out investors about a possible IPO which could have the company raise up to $50 million, making it the largest new Australian listing so far this year.

Geothermal energy works by pumping water into hot spots several kilometres underground, where the natural warmth created by the decay of uranium, thorium and potassium isotopes heats the water. It is then pumped back to the surface, where the resulting steam is used to create electricity.

Australia's existing crop of geothermal players is concentrated in the north-east of South Australia, where geological conditions are well suited to geothermal activity but where energy infrastructure is comparatively sparse. In contrast," target="_blank">Granite Power has secured projects already on the national energy grid and close to major energy markets. The company's most advanced projects are Narracun, 60 kilometres east of Melbourne, and Nagoorin, near Gladstone in Queensland.

Downturn hits India renewables; solar plan by Dec
Aug 10, 2009

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The global financial crisis is hurting India's hopes of attracting about $21 billion worth of investments in renewable energy by 2012, but a new solar plan expected to be rolled out by December could provide a boost. Renewables energy officials said on Monday they had already received more than $3 billion worth of investment since 2007, which could generate about 3,000 MWs (MW) of power, almost half of it from wind energy alone.

Domestic and foreign companies such as Tata group and Reliance Industries as well as state-run utilities are among hundreds of companies vying for a stake in India's emerging green energy sector. But the global financial crisis may have slowed investments and India could find it difficult to meet its target of generating 14,500 MW of green power by 2012. "We were quite hopeful but it may not be possible to do so (now)," Deepak Gupta, the most senior civil servant in the renewables ministry, told reporters.

India aims to generate 25,000 MWs of power from renewable energy over the next four years, more than double the current generation level of 12,000 MW. Only three% of India's total power mix is now from renewables, and developing this sector is at the centre of India's national plan on climate change which does not commit to any emission targets.

One of the thrusts of that plan is developing solar energy and India has plans of generating 20 GWs of solar energy by 2020. "We hope to roll out the plan by the end of this calendar year," Gupta said. Debashish Majumdar, chairman and managing director, said once the solar plan took off it could become a game changer for India's green energy sector, as top global companies were waiting for an opportunity to invest.

The target, which would help India close the gap on solar front-runners like China, is part of an ambitious $19 billion, 30-year scheme that could increase India's leverage in international talks for a new UN climate pact in December, one of several measures meant to help cut emissions.

If fully implemented, solar energy would be equivalent to one-eighth of India's current installed power base, helping the world's fourth-largest emitter of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions limit its heavy reliance on dirty coal and assuaging the nagging power deficit that has crimped its growth. Majumdar said India was also shifting from a policy of investment-based incentive to generation-linked incentives for renewables projects.

Sun and wind power struggle
August 12, 2009

DOUBTS are emerging about whether the Government's renewable energy bill will do what it is supposed to do - trigger immediate investment in cleaner power plants. Energy analysts had expected wind energy to be the clear winner from the proposed legislation, which would require 20 per cent of energy to come from renewable sources by 2020. But, an investment bank analysis warned, the scheme's design - the subject of a Senate committee report to be released today - is likely to direct most spending in the first five years to rooftop solar panels.

The target ramps up in the second half of the decade, but is less than 10 per cent by 2015. A recent report by investment bank UBS said: ''On our estimates there is every chance of that being met by [photovoltaic] solar energy''. Critics say this is due to a design flaw: to encourage rooftop solar energy, the Government proposes initially giving households that install panels credits worth five times the energy generated.

These ''phantom credits'' do not represent actual energy generation but count towards the renewable energy target when cashed in. Environment Victoria campaigns director Mark Wakeham said less renewable energy would be generated in the early years than the target suggested. ''It means large-scale projects that have been ready to go for a number of years, but have been waiting for a higher renewable energy target and price signal to invest, will remain on the back burner,'' he said.

The bill was delayed in June due to Opposition objections.. A Government spokeswoman said it would consider amendments supported by the Opposition to pass the bill. UBS analyst David Leitch said some wind farms would be built in the first years of the setting of the target, pointing to AGL's plan for more than 210 turbines at Oakland Hills and Macarthur in western Victoria to balance energy use of the state's desalination plant.

But, he added, ''Wind farms that come on line prior to 2016 won't earn the sort of returns in the early years you would have expected six months ago.'' Government spokeswoman Laura Anderson challenged the UBS analysis, saying there would be sufficient demand to support both roof-top solar and large-scale generation.

Renewable energy execs say change comes too slowly
Aug 10, 2009

LAS VEGAS, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Renewable energy leaders on Monday said the United States is moving too slowly to turn the economy green, despite support of the administration of President Barack Obama. Executives from companies seeking profits in the ever more popular world of "cleantech" aired their complaints at the National Clean Energy Summit sponsored by Senate Majority Leader and Nevada Democrat Harry Reid.

The conference, which included clean environment advocates and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and others, was a pitch session of sorts for new technologies from renewable energy chief executives. More often than not, those executives said that they could better deploy the products to help the environment if the government did not make it so hard and provided better incentives. High-tech building supplies and window maker Serious Materials Chairman Marc Porat said his company is retrofitting homes with insulating panes that were five times more effective than traditional ones.

But it wasn't going fast in terms of replacing all the windows in the United States. "We are on a 10,000 year trajectory," he said. BrightSource Energy President and Chief Executive John Woolard said that he was "two and a half years into a one-year process" to get permission to build a California solar thermal plant, which would use heat from the sun to power a turbine. "I'm here to tell you from the front lines, it is not an easy thing," he said, arguing that every project delay backed up the projects behind it. "If you look at the sense of scale, we are losing ground," he said.

Technology transfer of U.S, inventions overseas and lack of investment funds at home also concerned many around the table of more than 20 speakers, who were given a few minutes each. "Most of our materials go offshore," said Stephanie Burns, chief executive of Dow Corning [DOWCR.UL], which makes solar energy system components. Potential factory builders needed cash. "They need access to financing," she said.

The U.S. Southwest is full of deserts and windy mountain passes that are turning the region into a renewables leader, but not fast enough for many, even as the U.S. Congress considers a climate change bill. "The technology is there, scalability is the issue," said Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington, summarizing speeches in the morning.

Clear policy would make building big projects easier, she added, echoing executives whose complaints ranged from red tape stopping large-scale solar energy plants in the desert to the slow roll-out of efficiency products. Gore sparked the only confrontation at a table resoundingly positive about the possibility for change, asking the head of utility Nevada Energy why his company was not capturing waste heat for further use at coal-fired plants.

"We'd keep after a question until it was answered," Gore said, recalling Senate hearings with Reid, after NV Energy (NVE.N) Chief Executive Michael Yackira failed to satisfy him. The executive said he would look into it.

"Lost" Solar House Reborn as 3 Megawatt Air Force Solar Installation
Aug 10, 2009

In the 1970's, the U.S Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs hosted a comprehensive research project on home solar retrofits. The idea was to improve energy efficiency in Air Force housing, which at the time numbered over 150,000 units. The lessons learned from the model solar home were soon buried when popular tastes turned to energy-hogging McMansions. But now, 30 years later, solar energy has come full circle. The Academy is set to build a 3MW solar installation that will dwarf the earlier pilot project, providing solar energy not just for one home but for up to 7% of the entire educational complex.

That Was Then: The U.S. Air Force Academy Solar Test House
When the Air Force Academy was created in 1954, the benefit to faculty and students of an in-house research mission soon became apparent. The Academy established the Frank J. Seiler Laboratory in 1962. When the prolific lab closed in 1995 it was replaced by eight research centers. Among its numerous projects was the U.S. Air Force Academy Solar Test House. A series of reports starting in 1976 detail how the project began as a response to the energy crisis of the time, partly to address rising costs, and partly to achieve a guaranteed energy supply for the armed forces. The project involved solar energyed HVAC and water heating retrofits in a typical military family housing unit. By 1980, the researchers had made detailed studies of an array of solar technologies relating to conservation, insulation, solar collectors, thermal storage in the form of a 2,500 gallon underground tank, and control systems. Researchers made a large number of recommendations regarding the conversion to solar technology that never made it to those other 150,000 Air Force housing units, let alone into the civilian market - until now, that is.

This is Now: 3 MW of Solar Power at U.S. Air Force Academy
Flash forward almost 30 years, and the picture is totally different. The Air Force places among the U.S. EPA's top twenty green energy users. Among its rapidly growing list of sustainable energy installations is the mammoth 15 MW solar farm at Nellis Air Force Base, and it is even experimenting with solar energyed drones. According to a report in Defense Industry Daily, the Air Force has contracted with Colorado Springs Utilities to build an $18.3 million solar farm with a capacity of up to 3MW. Funding for the project will come from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It's part of $1.4 billion that the Air Force is set to receive for base improvements focused mainly on sustainable energy as part of the administration's efforts to build the market for green jobs. After 30 years of wandering, it looks like the "lost" solar house has finally found a home.

New tidal flume available in UK for offshore testing
10 August 2009

A combined wave and tidal power flume at the UK's University of Manchester can now be hired by engineering companies and consultancies looking to conduct physical tests of nearshore structures or renewable energy devices.

The flume has been designed specifically for shallow hydraulic flows - such as those found in coastal regions - and the Joule Centre Wave Flume allows simulation of realistic nearshore wave and current conditions. According to the Joule Centre, it is particularly well suited to the evaluation of marine energy devices and their environmental impact.

The availability of such a facility will be of interest to the growing number of companies developing technologies to harness either wave- or tidal power-stream energy. "There are very few flume facilities around the world that can simulate the effects of both current and waves, particularly directionally spread waves. With UK wave power levels among the world's highest and accounting for over half of Europe's wave energy, the successful deployment of such technology could make a significant contribution to the UK electricity supply" explains lecturer Dr Tim Stallard.

Waves in the 20 metre long facility are provided by eight Edinburgh Designs' piston-type wave paddles that can create regular, random, directionally spread or grouped wave conditions. Current velocities up to 0.5m/s at 0.45m depth are achievable and uniquely, currents can be generated simultaneously with any wave condition. The programmable paddles and 5 m width ensure that repeatable tests can be conducted without significant influence from the side walls of the flume. The flume can also be tilted by up to 10° from the horizontal.

This feature is believed to make it the largest tilting facility of its kind anywhere in the world and will be of particular interest to companies needing to test shoreline or estuarine structures.

Manchester Bobber
Key considerations for those developing marine energy technologies are their power output, survivability and environmental impact; all of which are of critical importance to the economic viability of this emerging industry sector.

Previous experiments using the flume have helped to address such challenges. For example, researchers developing a wave-device comprising an array of vertically oscillating floats known as the Manchester Bobber have used the flume facility to improve understanding of performance of an array of devices, as little is known about this for any type of wave energy device.

The experiments have enabled the team to optimise the device's float-shape as well as study arrays of tidal power stream devices to understand the effect of energy extraction on the natural flow.

eSolar flicks switch on first US solar tower
10 Aug 2009

The US solar industry ticked off a major milestone last week with the unveiling of the country's first solar thermal tower in southern California. The 5MW Sierra SunTower solar plant features 24,000 mirrors that have been positioned to concentrate the sun's rays on two 160-foot towers containing water that is then turned into steam to drive turbines. The resulting energy is expected to provide power for more than 4,000 homes in California's Antelope Valley.

The plant has been developed by eSolar, the high-profile concentrated solar specialist which won headlines last year when it secured $130m (£77.6m) in funding from a raft of investors including Google and the Quercus Trust.

The company said that unlike other solar thermal technologies, the plant made use of advanced software algorithms to enhance efficiency and focus thousands of mirrors on a single point throughout the day. "Today, we unveil a new blueprint for solar energy – one that leverages Moore's law rather than more steel," said Bill Gross, chief executive of eSolar, referring to the IT industry maxim that computing power increases exponentially over time.

He added that the plant would soon be followed by further projects worldwide, including the development of three plants in California and New Mexico capable of generating up to 465MW of electricity for US utility NRG Energy. David Crane, president and chief executive of NRG Energy, hailed the opening of the new site as evidence of the commercial viability of solar thermal power, adding that the company was committed to implementing the technology on a large scale across the southwest.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

Solar power frees KPLC customers from blackouts
August 10, 2009

Electricity consumers facing supply disruption in the wake of power rationing can turn to solar and permanently bid farewell to Kenya Power and Lighting Company in three days, industry players say. The rationing plan that leaves large sections of the country without power for at least 72 hours a week began last Thursday and is expected to cut productivity in the economy by at least one quarter and increase job losses. Energy sector entrepreneurs are, however, responding to the crisis with solutions that analysts say could get a large number of consumers off the national grid, leaving enough room for a return to normal supply.

Erratic weather In Nairobi, the alternative power supply revolution is being driven by solar energy providers who are promising long-term solutions to a crisis Kenya is expected to face in the next decade as it strives to develop new energy sources to meet growing demand. The crisis is rooted in the fact that nearly 70 per cent of electricity consumed in the country comes from hydro sources that are linked to the increasingly erratic weather patterns. Kenya has been an active market for solar systems for almost a decade, during which more than 150,000 units have been installed on a commercial basis.

An estimated 15,000 to 25,000 panels are installed yearly, says a report on renewable energy. Climacento Green Tech, a solar energy systems provider, says its solution can drastically reduce households' spending on energy by up to half and permanently get consumers off KPLC's roll. Globally, solar energy works well for most items except electric appliances that use an electric heat element. Climacento Green Tech says solar energy can and is now widely used to heat water as well as power other appliances that rely on a heat element.

For lighting, solar companies are installing panels, batteries, battery charge controllers and inverters that take a direct current and switch it back and forth to produce alternating current. It takes two days to fit a three bed roomed house that is already wired with a solar system. Although the solar panels would be enough to supply energy for lighting, or watching television, the company boasts of the ability to install other technology that can run appliances with heating elements more effectively than just solar panels.

Solar technology uses Standard Vacuum Tubes for water heating. Each tube consists of two glass tubes made from strong borosilicate glass with high chemical and thermal shock resistance. The outer tube is transparent allowing light rays to pass through with minimal reflection while the inner tube is coated with a special selective coating which features excellent solar radiation absorption and minimal reflection properties. To them the insulation properties are so good that while the tube inside might be 150 degrees hot, the outer tube is cold to touch. The tubes are able to absorb the energy from infrared rays that can pass through clouds.

Wind and low temperatures have less effect on the functioning of the tubes compared to flat solar panel collectors due to the insulating properties of the vacuum. This means that tube water heaters can perform well even in cold weather when flat plate solar panels perform poorly due to more consistent heat loss. Climacento also installs uncovered solar collectors it says are suitable for pool heating and rural areas. The uncovered solar collectors absorb the energy without either the glass of standard vacuum tubes or the thermal insulation of conventional solar panels.

The Italian manufactured panels made of a polypropylene compound conducive for absorbing power, can be rolled out and rewound making them portable and easier to install on any flat surface that catches enough sunlight. An average home (one to three bed-roomed) that does not utilize a fridge requires one panel (1m by ½ m) to supply it with energy for 8 hours daily. Three extra uncovered solar panels each providing 150watts of energy would be needed in a home that uses a fridge that remains on for 24 hours. Depending on the size, these kinds of panels range in cost from Sh44,000 to Sh75,000.

To be completely disconnected from KPLC, it would cost a three bed roomed home Sh250,000, inclusive of the panels, battery, charge controller and inverter required to generate the solar energy. That would be enough to supply energy for a television set, lighting and other appliances that don't use too much energy. An extra Sh50, 000 is charged to cater for appliances that consume a lot of energy such as washing machines and heating appliances. solar panels can last up to 25 years while batteries, charge controllers and inverters need to be serviced from time to time. That may spare homes from power blackouts and the risk of increased utility bills from KPLC. - African Laughter

Carbon scheme to boost markets
August 10, 2009

AUSTRALIA'S proposed emissions trading scheme is almost certain to be rejected by the Senate this week, but its progress is being followed closely in international markets. The reason, according to Mark Lewis, the Paris-based head of carbon markets at Deutsche Bank, is that the carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS) will have a significant impact on international carbon markets if and when it is passed.

Contrary to the European scheme, the CPRS allows for unlimited access to international carbon credits by Australian buyers, and Lewis expects this to result in demand for about 40 million tonnes of international credits generated by the UN-sponsored Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), or nearly one-third of the market. Other analysts have predicted as much as 80 million tones. This will have a dramatic impact on the international market, which was set up under the Kyoto Protocol to fund carbon abatement schemes in developing countries.

Most of the investment has been made in China, in projects such as small-scale hydro, waste methane extraction and renewable energy investments, but the lack of demand from international buyers, and a lack of finance, has caused the price for such credits to fall dramatically in the past 18 months. "People think Australia's not big enough to make a difference in international markets, but Australia would be a serious player in the pricing dynamics for the CDM," Lewis says. "What all of that means, is that on the issue of climate change and carbon trading, Australia would be punching well above its weight and be a significant player in the global debate."

Lewis, however, is surprised there has been such a focus on the cost to industry in the debate about the scheme. "The price impact will not be so dramatic because the price of international offsets will be cheaper than the cost of domestic abatement." But that has a flip side. "If you were trying to send price signals to encourage technical development in Australia, the international offset price might not be high enough." Which, he says, is why the European scheme had strict limits on the access to international markets. The proposed US cap-and-trade scheme would change the dynamics even further. It allows for up to 1 billion credits to be purchased in international markets.

Lagging behind in renewables
WITH the federal government's Renewable Energy Target also facing a standstill in the Senate, there are growing concerns in the local renewable energy industry that the country is being left behind. There are billions of dollars of projects currently on hold, and while the government says it wants to be a leader in renewable technologies, other countries are marching ahead. China has recently upgraded its renewable energy target from 15 per cent to 20 per cent by 2020, which will translate to around 150 GWs of wind energy, 20GW of solar energy and 30GW of biomass power. India joined the push towards solar last week, announcing plans to install 20GW of solar capacity by 2020 - - its reliance on an equivalent amount of diesel-sourced power means solar will be cost-competitive - - with a grand plan to lift that to 200GW of solar by 2050.

"Everyone wants to be world leader," says Ray Wills, head of the WA Sustainable Energy Association. "Other developed and developing nations are moving aggressively to develop their lesser renewable energy resources while Australia - - with the world's best resources - - is lagging behind." In the US, the amount produced by renewable energy sources (11.1 per cent) has overtaken that of nuclear energy (10.4 per cent), according to the latest data from the US Energy Information Administration. Professor Wills notes that $US155 billion was invested directly into clean-energy companies and projects worldwide in 2008, and total transactions in the sector, including acquisitions and buyouts, were $US223 billion. Precious little of that occurred in Australia.

Head of steam for geothermal
THE official opening of Petratherm's Paralana geothermal project in the middle of South Australia's outback on Friday was notable for Martin Ferguson's concession that geothermal energy could one day be competitive with coal. Geothermal has two important qualities - - it provides base-load power, and just 1 per cent of Australia's geothermal energy resource is enough to support the country's energy needs 26,000 times over.

At between $75 and $120 per MW, the cost is about double that of coal-fired electricity, but rising coal prices and the inevitable carbon price will narrow that gap and ultimately make it a cheaper source of power. And geothermal is about half the price of current estimates of carbon capture and storage, and its costs will probably fall - - which must make it very tempting for the government to throw as much money at geothermal as it has to carbon capture and solar.

The challenge for geothermal development has been for start-up companies to obtain finance to fund the expensive deep-drilling that is required to prove and then tap the resources. The industry is hoping that more of the $50 million made available by the government to help fund these drilling programs will be made available in the next round. Only two $7m grants were announced in the first round in April, but there is a growing queue of applicants.

Greenearth Energy has made its second application for funding to help with the cost of drilling around Geelong, while Green Rock Energy has made an application for its project to provide air conditioning at the University of WA. KUTh Energy has made an application for its project in Tasmania, while Torrens Energy and others seeking help for projects in South Australia.

Algae in the swim
THE federal government last week announced the seven successful applicants for $15m in funding for R&D of second-generation biofuel technologies and feedstocks. The winning tenders include those focused on producing fuels from sugarcane waste, mallee, and other biofuels, while two have gone to consortiums working on developing fuel from micro algae that feed off the emissions of fossil fuel power stations.

The largest allocation ($2.72m) has gone to the Algal Fuels Consortium, which is looking to raise a total of $15m for a pilot plant at Torrens Island in South Australia. Algae-based fuels have been successfully tested for use in jet engines, but the major challenge is choosing the right form of algae, and achieving commercial quantities.

Rob Thomas, chairman of Algal Fuels, says much work needs to be done on improving yields, harvesting methods and conversion into fuel, but he expects "pre-commercial" refineries to be operating within 10 years. Exxon-Mobil last month announced it would spend $US600m on research into algal fuels. Thomas says he expects more money to flow into research in Australia once the first pilot plant is established in the next year.

Energy Expo Sheds Light on Options: Energy Expert Wants Wind to Power More Homes, Small Firms.
August 9, 2009

Visitors to the Renewable Energy Expo and Solar Tour had an opportunity Saturday to be filled with hot - - and green - - air. The daylong event, held at Colorado State University-Pueblo, featured presentations, demonstrations and booths about renewable energy and the benefits of energy efficiency. One of the discussions focused on "small wind for residential, business and agriculture." "If you sit at the dinner table and complain half a dozen times a year about the wind, you're probably pretty good for a wind application," said Chris Martin, owner of Buena Vista-based Headwaters Energy, who led the short discussion.

Renewable energy and the state and federal pushes for a greener, more environmentally friendly society are hot topics. On the home front, Pueblo has garnered a global spotlight with the arrival of Vestas Wind Systems and its construction of the world's largest wind-turbine factory south of town. But that's big business. Martin deals with small businesses, homes and farms. As popular as the idea of harvesting wind has been lately, the industry is far from eclipsing the popularity of solar energy. "Solar is definitely more mature, more organized. The wind industry is more fragmented," Martin said. "There's more rebates tied to solar. I'd like to see more rebates tied to wind. But you can look at this trade show and you have one wind guy to 12 solar guys."

One explanation for that could be the design and method used to collect wind: tall wind generators. As a result, Martin said his industry encounters restrictions and regulations - - height playing a primary factor - - in residential areas from homeowner associations. Rural areas, small towns, mountain communities and households seem to be more suitable for wind generators. But that's not to discourage folks who prefer wind energy, he said.

Martin said he's installed a couple of units in Pueblo County but is yet to build in Pueblo proper. "Wind is very site-specific. Pueblo does drop off in wind. I don't think I've put one in (Pueblo)," he said. The overall cost to buy and install a wind generator, depending on the unit and its height, can range from $14,500 to $115,000. "There's factors of how and when your investment pays off," he said. The federal government offers a 30-percent tax credit for investing in wind energy, Martin said, and some utility companies offer rebates up to $3 per watt of power generated.

One interested expo visitor was Keli Kringel of La Veta. Having recently completed a passive solar renovation on her home, she was exploring other renewable-energy options, such as wind, and taking new ideas and information back home. "I want to live sustainably. I'm in support of solar and wind energy. I'm right in town, so I have some of those (restrictions on wind generators). But I think this area is great for solar and wind because we have a lot of it. It's always sunny and windy."

Recurrent Energy Picks Suntech Power for 5MW SF Solar Project
August 06, 2009

SunTech Power (STP) has won the deal to supply 5 MWs worth of solar panels for Recurrent Energy's project at the Sunset Reservoir in San Francisco. The 5-MW project has received a lot of limelight because it would be the largest municipal project for the city, which plans to buy electricity from Recurrent. San Francisco-based Recurrent will own and operate the project.

The project's approval wasn't without controversy. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 7–4 to greenlight the 25-year purchase agreement in May. Some board members worried that the city would be locked into rates now that would be considerably higher years from now, when solar energy should be much cheaper to produce.

SunTech said it plans to deliver the solar panels in the fourth quarter of this year. The project would require about 25,000 of them. China-based SunTech's American subsidiary is based in San Francisco. Recurrent and SunTech didn't disclose the financial terms of the deal. The project is scheduled for completion in 2010. When it's up and running, the project would increase the city's own solar energy output from 2 MWs to 7 MWs.

Monday 10 August 2009

Solar power towers have maker beaming
August 6, 2009

As California and the nation seek to make electricity without burning fossil fuels, a new entrant jumped on the grid yesterday by focusing sunlight from 24,000 mirrors on a pair of towers north of Los Angeles. The 850-degree heat atop the 160-foot towers boiled water, and when the resulting steam spun a turbine on the ground, the plant built by Pasadena-based eSolar became the first commercial solar tower project in the United States. By utility standards, the Sierra SunTower is small – enough to power about 4,000 homes at its peak 5-MW production.

But eSolar has deals in place to build larger plants, about 600 MWs of peak power production in California and the Southwest, plus a GW in India. To produce more power, each plant would have more towers, up to 16 for each steam turbine. The company sells the equipment, other firms own the plants and sell the power. Two of California's biggest utilities, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric, have signed deals to buy their power. San Diego Gas & Electric Co, has not.

eSolar is one of several companies racing for the answer of how to power American life without burning fossil fuels, and it's focusing on one of the two proven ways to make electricity from the sun: Photovoltaic panels, which make power from the light itself. Thermal systems, which harness the sun's heat, using fluids – ranging from hydrogen to steam to molten salt – to turn it into mechanical energy to drive generators. Neither method, so far, has proved as cost-effective as traditional power plants, and experts doubt there will be a one-size-fits-all solution.

In urban areas – and hazy or cloudy climates – photovoltaics can make sense because they're less complicated, smaller and can make power even with diffuse light. But for power sellers with access to large spaces with direct sunlight, the thermal systems can offer benefits because they can turn more of the sunlight into electricity and stop producing power more gradually when the sun goes away. Companies, with a big push from government, are working on ways to lower costs.

Some, such as FirstSolar, an Arizona company that has teamed up with San Diego-based Sempra Energy, are focusing on making a lot of inexpensive photovoltaic panels and spreading them on cheap desert land. Sempra says the power it produces at a plant outside Las Vegas is the cheapest solar energy on the market, but it won't reveal the cost, and says it is still more expensive than natural gas.

Others, such as Stirling Energy Systems, which has signed a deal with SDG&E, are focusing on efficiency. At a plant in the Imperial Valley, Stirling plans to have thousands of dishes pointed at the sun. In the middle of each dish, a solar engine driven by sun-heated hydrogen would drive a small generator. Other companies try to get more power from photovoltaic technology, or use tubes full of oil in solar troughs, mirrors in the shape of half-pipes, to drive steam turbines.

Bill Gross, the man behind eSolar, said he started thinking about solar energy as a teenager in suburban Los Angeles during the 1973 energy crisis. Trained as an engineer, he made solar devices before making a fortune in the software industry and founding Idealab in 1996 as a place to test ideas and build companies. The venture pioneered selling toys on the Internet and the search-engine advertising, and of late has been focused on green technology, including Vista electric car maker Aptera.

eSolar has attracted funding from Silicon Valley and Hollywood, including Google and Stephen Spielberg. "I've been dreaming of this day for more than 35 years," he said while unveiling the eSolar plant for investors, supporters, journalists and local politicians. "Up to now, solar electricity has remained a novelty because it failed a math test," he said. It is too expensive. His plant, he said, can produce electricity cheaper because it is made from mass-produced elements, quickly assembled on site and controlled by powerful computers.

Southern California Edison has agreed to buy all the electricity produced at the Lancaster plant. eSolar wouldn't say at what price it sells electricity, nor would it say how much the plant cost to build. But when PG&E asked state regulators to approve a deal for the output of a proposed 92-MW eSolar plant, it did not request a rate increase. It said the power is cheaper than other power available when the plant produces electricity. Utilities pay more for power when demand is high, such as on hot summer days.

Tom Mancini has been looking at a variety of technologies for Sandia National Labs, which does energy research for the government. "Who are going to be the winners and losers? We really don't know at this point," he said.

Hot rocks drilling begins
Fri Aug 7, 2009

South Australia's latest hot rocks energy project has been officially launched near Arkaroola in the state's upper north. It marks the start of drilling on the Paralana Project, operated by Petratherm. The company aims to use geothermal energy to provide power to about 300,000 homes by 2018. The managing director, Terry Kallis, says he has high ambitions for the renewable energy source. "We see that our particular technology has the highest probability of being the lowest cost form of renewable full stop, and probably within the next 30 years be able to compete belly to belly with coal production," he said.

Rigs signal geothermal bonanza
August 08, 2009

AUSTRALIA'S largest drilling rig was officially opened in the northern Flinders Ranges yesterday, cementing South Australia's place at the forefront of geothermal energy exploration. SA is now home to Australia's two largest onshore drilling rigs, both of which are targeting geothermal energy at depths greater than 4km. The technology involves drilling wells 4-5km into the Earth's crust, circulating water between them through hot granite, and harvesting the heat when it returns to the surface.

Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said yesterday geothermal would play a key part in the nation's ambition to generate 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. But while the first commercial power generated from this project, slated for 2011, will go towards powering the nearby Beverley uranium mine, Mr Ferguson said there was no need for Australia to even debate the issue of nuclear energy. Premier Mike Rann said South Australia was leading the way with renewable energy, having attracted most geothermal energy spending in Australia – more than $800 million up until 2013.

Forget Wind Turbines, Or Solar Panels, We Need To Fund New Power Lines
Aug. 7, 2009

Lost in the talk of the climate bill, stimulus spending on electric cars, and renewable energy, is the fact that our transmission system is decrepit. Unless we fix that glaring problem, bringing any of the aforementioned projects to life is going to be almost impossible, Bloomberg reports. Efforts to transform and rebuild our transmission system in the United States are woefully underfunded. Obama only dedicated $6 billion to upgrading the system in the stimulus package. That's a miniscule amount, considering that the Energy Department and power companies say $130 billion is needed. It's also less than half what our energy rival China is dedicating to building new lines of power.

Without these improved lines, the big clean energy objectives of the administration aren't feasible. Wind energy and solar energy need stronger transmission lines as well as more stations to direct them. Here's an example of failed alternative energy stemming from a weak grid, via Bloomberg: The consequences of failing to improve the grid played out last year in Texas, the biggest U.S, generator of wind energy with 7,907 MWs, enough to supply about 6.3 million homes. When winds died in February 2008, utilities had to cut power to factories and offices as output dropped 82%.

Texas's transmission network is mostly independent of the nation's. Without added power lines, operators were unable to draw enough replacement electricity to keep businesses supplied. It's not entirely clear that the U.S, government needs to foot this bill. There's other ways for the government to change the process. T. Boone Pickens who had his windfarm plans scaled back says we just need to federal government to assert authority over states for siting power lines. States have more authority over power lines right now, but if the federal government stepped in, and changed that, it could cause a boom for private developers.

Also, let's not forget electricity production is a profitable enterprise. Utilities and other power producers should be paying for this, which seems to be the thinking of the administration:
  • The administration is counting on private utilities and transmission developers to complement its investment, according to Wellinghoff. Yet a full refit of the U.S, grid would cost $13 billion annually over 10 years, compared with the $5 billion a year averaged over the last decade, said Rich Lordan of the Electric Power Research Institute, an industry-funded energy research organization in Palo Alto, California.
  • If utilities are forced to pay for new lines, then consumer bills rise, and politicians get blamed. So we could get caught in a game of chicken to see who's willing to fund new power lines.

Ceramatec Develops 24-hour Solar Energy Storage Battery
August 07, 2009

Salt Lake City-based Ceramatec, Inc, is in development of a battery that solar energy users outside the grid could use to store energy from their solar panels for most of a day, and its size and configuration – almost fitting in the palm of a hand, without lead and sulfur – promises safer, more manageable energy storage.

The battery runs on a sodium-sulfur mix, which is reportedly more energy intensive than typical lead-acid batteries, and has a 92-percent charge/discharge rating, allowing grid-tied solar energy users to store energy from their solar panels during off-peak hours (typically midnight to 7 a.m.) and use them when kW-hour electricity costs soar during the day.

It would potentially allow non-solar users to do the same, providing the batteries don't catch on to the extent that their use tips the on-peak/off-peak paradigm and draws the wrath of utility companies nationwide, most of whom have carefully calculated peak loads with plant operations.

Ceramatec has also reportedly found a way to make the battery run at less than 200 degrees Fahrenheit, thanks to a ceramic membrane between the sodium and sulfur which inhibits positive sodium ions, leaving the electrons to create a high-energy current. Of course, the sodium compound is corrosive, so it's probably not something you would give your kids.

The batteries, which can be ramped to store up to 20 kW-hours of electricity and are attached to a disk, will be ready for market testing in 2011, and will sell for about $2,000. The size alone is a radical departure from the 12-volt, deep-cycle (RV, marine and golf cart) batteries currently on sale for alternative energy storage, which measure about 25 inches by 40 inches (and roughly 10 inches deep), weigh 50 pounds, and cost about $2,500.

At 20 kW hours – most of an average household's electricity use per day – they look very promising. American households typically use about 33 kW hours a day, or 1,000 kW hours a month, so the battery's storage capacity could easily take an energy-conscious household through a typical day, with some caveats (no dishwasher or combined TV/computer operations, for example).

Off-grid households relying on alternative energies like solar typically use deep-cycle batteries, wired in tandem, to store energy for periods when the sun doesn't shine. This gives them a distinct advantage over the grid-tied, who either have to wait out a power failure or rent a generator. Batteries also help loads to run at a constant voltage, while still allowing solar panels or wind turbines to charge as much as possible.

On the negative side, existing deep-cycle batteries are large, full of lethal components like lead and sulfuric acid, heavy, and require regular maintenance. They are also the first part of a solar electric system to wear out.

Newer models, adapted to alternative energy storage, may have a useful lifetime of up to 20 years, and offer 2,100 cycles (complete discharge to recharge), or 4,000 cycles to half-capacity, but they are still large, heavy and dangerous, and may not last as long as the solar panels they serve. In fact, battery failure is often the largest contributing factor in a solar array's failure to deliver according to its rated capacity.

If Ceramatec's battery delivers as promised, it would be an ideal, and less cumbersome, solution to solar energy storage, though most users will likely want a lifetime rating (beyond the 92-percent charge/discharge tag) when asked to fork over two grand.

Push on for Sun Coast solar plant
Fri Aug 7, 2009

A Sunshine Coast residents' group is pushing for a $200 million solar thermal power station to be built in the region within five years. The Powerlines Action Group Eumundi is proposing the solar plant as an alternative to the Queensland Government's plan for high voltage powerlines in the area. Group coordinator Graham Smith says it is working with an energy retailer to develop the project which would provide clean power. "I think now there is a willingness, there is an awareness of climate change," he said. "The fact that the council was voted in [with a] massive majority on a sustainability mandate, I think it shows people are really keen to do things in a different way, as long as it's commercially viable and as long as it's done sustainably."

China's Solar Plans Could Stall Without Installers
August 7, 2009

SHANGHAI (Dow Jones)--China is on its way to becoming a solar energy - with financial incentives coming from every corner of the country - but a lack of experienced project developers and equipment installers may cast a shadow over the growing industry.

The country is already a powerhouse when it comes to solar manufacturing, with several large solar cell and module manufacturers located in the country. But unlike the U.S, and Europe, China hasn't had much experience developing and installing solar projects. For instance, in 2008 the country had an installed base of solar energy of only 50 MWs.

"In the mid term, installers could be the key factor preventing China from expanding its global market share in annual solar installations at such a rapid rate as Spain did from 2005 to 2008," said Charles Yonts, an analyst with the Hong Kong-based brokerage, analysis and advisory services firm CLSA. "But I don't think lack of installers will prevent China from reaching my 1500 (MW) 2011 target and then some." The Chinese government is targeting solar energy capacity of between 10 and 20 GWs by 2020 and is ratcheting up funding to achieve it.

On July 21, China's Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Science and Technology, and National Energy Administration officially announced details of the country's "Golden Sun" program. Under this program the Ministry of Finance will subsidize half of the total construction costs of an on-grid solar energy plant, including transmission expenses. The ministry of finance will also pay for up to 70% of off-grid installations. Its sweeping subsidy program is also not limited to one or two provinces around the country. Instead, China is offering the subsidies for up to 20 MWs of demonstration projects in each of China's 22 provinces, and in its five autonomous regions.

Given those targets, analysts expect that China could develop more than 500 MWs of solar energy over the next two to three years. Analysts say that figure could rise, noting that some Chinese solar manufacturers have an even larger pipeline thanks to several non-binding contracts that were signed ahead of the ministry's announcement. Those contracts aim to take advantage of local subsidies that are being offered at the provincial level. However, of the big module manufacturers in China, only SunTech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (STP) in Wuxi, Xinyu-based LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (LDK); and Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. (YGE) in Baoding have integration and installation businesses.

Around two years ago, SunTech created a subsidiary company called SunTech Energy Engineering to gain more experience in the installation and component integration business. Then, in October 2008, SunTech acquired the U.S.-based solar integrator and installer EI Solutions Inc. Meanwhile, in July, LDK acquired a majority stake in a Milan, Italy-based system integration company Solar Green Technology SpA. Yingli has a small installation and renewable energy project development group. The lack of installation expertise could represent an opportunity for international companies, even if Chinese solar companies have an advantage in bidding for new projects because of their ties to local government.

Shanghai-based JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (JASO), for instance, has joined with longtime partner BP Solar on many of its bids in China, according to Anthea Chung, JA Solar's chief financial officer. "We don't have the (engineering, procurement and construction) team, or the system engineering team in house," Chung said in an interview. "And we don't want to build a big team and spend all of that money (so) at the preliminary stage we team up with other companies."

Chung said that the strategy may change as the China market develops but for now, partnering with a more experienced system integrator with a recognized brand makes the most sense. Foreign companies can also look at the example of Enfinity Development (HK) Ltd., the Chinese arm of a Belgian renewable energy project developer, Enfinity BV. The firm, together with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holdings, a state-owned enterprise and Best Solar Co., won a bid to install the first 10 MWs of a planned 500-MW solar photovoltaics project in Dunhuang, China.

With the help of a fund that the firm expects to raise over the next year, Enfinity has said that it wants to develop approximately 1 GW worth of solar projects that it already has identified with a group of partners. Still, some are skeptical that the China market can ever be truly opened. "I am not sure if the Chinese government will let non-Chinese in on the game as the whole point is to stimulate the economy," wrote one analyst in an email. "They may allow a 50% (joint venture) for non-Chinese to 'help out the Chinese.'"