The Sun Shines in China, too

With over a billion inhabitants, China is the most populous country in the world, and as it’s industrial revolution is underway, it increasingly contributes to global climate change, exploitation of limited resources, and atmospheric pollution. It is for these reasons that it’s so important for China to implement the use of solar energy, which is a much cleaner alternative to energy production than coal. Coal is a poor energy resource because it burns into smog and emits carbon into our atmosphere, calls for dangerous mining practices that threaten the safety of workers and deface the Earth, and is a non-renewable resource. However, coal currently accounts for over 75% of China’s commercial energy consumption.

On Monday, October 13, China’s National Energy Administration published a notice targeting the need to bolster electric power production with PV power station construction and facilitation for wind and hydropower. Their notice points to tedious approval processes, augmented costs of projects, and speculators’ hands in the market as the blame for prolonged delay in the utilization of renewable energy resources in China. In order for China’s National Energy Administration to deploy the ambitions published in their notice, gatekeepers need to open up the market to make switching to renewable resource fueled power financially feasible. Their plans include innovative ways of raising finances for such endeavors. Liu Chang, founder of Chinese solar industry Solarzoom, sees the NEA publication as a significant step in solving major problems associated with the implementation of solar energy in China.

The National Energy Administration will lay out the plans for PV power station construction later this year, to which all the main provincial power stations must respond with plans for installation and investment details within a month. The NEA also plans to construct large PV power stations on underutilized land with prime conditions for generating mass amounts of energy. The NEA also plans to use hydroelectric power in conjunction with solar to optimize the use of renewable power resources in China. China’s never had a good reputation in eco friendly technology or business practices, but hopefully all of that will change in the near future. With solar technology always becoming more accessible, it seems like a more feasible option all the time.

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Survey Shows Popular Opinion on Solar

A recent article completed for the Solar Energy Industries Association website summarized the findings of a study conducted collaboratively between the SEIA and Hart Research Associates.  For the last five years, both organizations have worked together to complete the survey, which polls the opinion of the American republic in terms of solar energy. 

Several key findings were present in the study.  Just over nine out of ten Americans think that the United States should develop and use more power energy; specifically, ninety two percent of those polled agreed with this statement.  Furthermore, those who voted proved to prefer solar power to any alternative sources of energy; eighty five percent of voters, plus eighty seven percent of swing voters backed solar energy as the suggested primary source of energy.

The study also researched the opinions of political parties in regards to solar energy.  In general, seventy five percent of Republicans favor the use of solar energy.  Eighty five percent of Independents and ninety four percent of Democrats also support the practice.  In terms of the involvement of the federal government, nearly eight out of ten Americans polled felt that the government should incentivize solar development, in the hopes of leading to further installation of solar units; specifically, seventy eight percent of Americans polled believed that the government should find a way to reward those who use solar energy.  Furthermore, seven out of ten Americans truly believe that the federal government should be doing more to support and encourage the use of solar power.

The statistics support this belief, as over one hundred thousand Americans are currently employed through some means of solar power, through five thousand businesses nation-wide in all fifty states.  The economic benefit from creating more plants and more avenues or solar power is clear, due entirely to the well-rounded benefits of employing the energy source; solar provides business for companies, savings for homeowners, education for schools and jobs for communities.

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Quality Problems with Chinese Production of Solar Products

Occasionally, Potential Induced Degradation can occur on solar products produced by certain Chinese manufacturers.   This occurs when the module’s voltage potential and leakage current drive ion mobility within the module, specifically when this occurs between the semiconductor material and other elements of the module, such as the frame or the glass.  This action, typically brought on by high levels of humidity and high temperatures, causes the module’s power to degrade, often resulting in the loss of up to forty percent of the panel’s power.

To fix this issue, manufactures need to improve the insulation on the module, as to prevent the painful effects of excessive temperatures and humidity levels.  However, according to an article recently completed by Renesola’s website, which interviewed Dr. Hou Ruzhong, R&D director of Renesola, some Chinese manufacturers pay very little attention to this concern.  That is not the case for Renesola, Hou asserts, as the company has made researching the problem a priority.

There are other issues in the production as well.  A problem entitled Snail Trail, in which the solar cell grid discolors, allows moisture to transmit through the backsheet, EVA and solar cell.  Through this, the backsheet will turn yellow, if the front of the EVA lets UV rays transmit.  There is also an issue with resistance to wind and snow, with the frames and glass not being made to withstand harsh weather conditions, resulting in micro cracks along the structure.  According to Hou, thinning the thickness of the aluminum is often pursued as it cut costs in production.  However, costs should not be the priority, in Hou’s opinion, as long-term exposure to all of these elements results in degradation in the solar output of the product.

In the case of Renesola, the company is working very hard to not fall to these shortcomings.  In the PVEL test for 2014, in which more than ten companies participated and were tested in varying categories, Renesola scored very successfully, achieving top performance ranking in Dynamic Mechanical Load and Damp Heat, in which the company’s products won the top ranking.  Renesola came in second in the Potential Induced Degradation category and fifth in the Humidity Freeze category.

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2013 Largest Year for Solar Yet

According to an article recently completed for the Solar Energy Industries Association website, 2013 was the largest year yet for installation of solar energy sources.  The United States PV Markets installed four thousand seven hundred and fifty one megawatts, a figure that equates to a forty one percent increase over installation levels from 2012; two thousand one hundred and six megawatts of this total was installed in the fourth quarter alone.  In general, solar installations accounted for twenty nine percent of all new electricity generation capacities added in 2013—a ten percent increase from the same statistic in 2012.  This has earned solar power the title as the second largest source generating new electricity, falling behind natural gas.  

One hundred and forty thousand units of solar power were installed throughout the course of 2013.  Most of these were installed in the utility market; utility companies account for two thousand eight hundred forty seven megawatts of photovoltaic capacity and four hundred and ten megawatts of Concentrating Solar Power units installed. 

It is believed the steady increase is attributable to the reduction in cost, making solar materials more affordable to every day homeowners.  The national average cost of installing a PV or photovoltaic capacity system decreased fifteen percent, to two dollars and fifty-nine cents per watt.  The average price of a solar panel also decreased, falling to cost sixty percent of what the purchase would’ve cost at its start in 2011. 

All of this bodes well for solar energy’s potential in 2014.  Approximately six thousand megawatts of PV systems are planned to come online, a figure which has the potential to show a twenty six percent increase in growth on the same statistic from 2013.  Eight hundred and forty megawatts of CSP systems are expected to be commissioned as well.  All of this equates to an increase in jobs and added positive effect on the economy at the hands of solar power.  Currently, one hundred and forty three thousand American workers are employed via solar energy, a number that has increased twenty percent from 2012.

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The Solar Biz opens a Central American Warehouse!

Do you reside in Central America? Do you need help getting access to solar energy? The Solar Biz recently opened a new warehouse in Central America. It is now easier for them to help those living in or near Central America have access to electricity, solar electricity.

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