First Solar to Deliver 155MW of Solar Power Projects for AGL Energy

Utility scale solar PV projects expected to meet the needs of over 50,000 average NSW homes

First Solar announced yesterday that AGL Energy Limited (AGL) has achieved financial close for two utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects. First Solar has executed engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts to supply the projects with its advanced thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules and provide EPC services. In addition, First Solar will provide maintenance support for a period of five years once the solar farms are operational.

First Solar logo

AGL has engaged First Solar to construct a 102MW [AC] solar plant at Nyngan and a 53MW solar project at Broken Hill – both located in New South Wales. The projects are supported by $166.7 million of Commonwealth Government funding through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) as well as an additional $64.9 million in funding from the NSW Government. The total project cost is approximately $450 million.

“The Nyngan and Broken Hill solar projects will be Australia’s largest utility-scale solar projects, respectively, and demonstrate that utility-scale solar is a proven, bankable source of power generation in Australia today,” said Jack Curtis, First Solar’s Vice President of Business Development for Asia Pacific. “We are thrilled to be partnering with AGL in delivering the solar projects, both of which are of major significance for regional New South Wales and the Australian energy sector. These projects will play an important part in the growing acceptance of utility-scale solar PV, and we applaud the Commonwealth Government and the NSW Government for their vision and commitment to the sector.”

Construction of the Nyngan project is expected to commence in January 2014, with commercial operation expected by mid-2015. Construction of the Broken Hill project will start approximately six months later, in July 2014, and is scheduled to reach commercial operation before the end of 2015. On completion, the projects are expected to produce approximately 360,000 megawatt hours of electricity each year, which will be sufficient to meet the needs of over 50,000 average homes in NSW.

The Nyngan and Broken Hill solar plants are expected to provide significant value to regional New South Wales, adding nearly two percent to the gross regional product of each community. First Solar is actively engaged with local companies looking to become involved in the projects, with over 100 local contractors attending the recent subcontractor forums hosted in Dubbo, Nyngan and Cobar. The projects will create approximately 300 construction jobs in Nyngan and approximately 150 in Broken Hill, providing valuable experience and capability to support the development of similar projects in future years.

“AGL is delighted to be working with First Solar and drawing on the team’s global expertise in this industry,” said Michael Fraser, AGL’s Managing Director. “We are eager to get this nationally significant project underway, and together we will provide the experience and commercial stability to help ensure the successful construction of the two solar plants.”

Source: Business Wire

Solectria Renewables to Power the Largest College Solar Installation in North America

Solectria Renewables, LLC, a U.S. PV inverter manufacturer, announced yesterday that its SGI 500 inverters will power an 8MW solar system, the largest college solar installation in North America, at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) in West Windsor, New Jersey. Solectria Renewables’ inverters were specified by MasTec Renewables Construction Company (MasTec).

solectra ogo

“We’ve worked with Solectria Renewables on other projects, including a 4.75MW solar system in Massachusetts, so we already have experience with the reliability and durability of their products as well as the responsiveness of their sales, operations and customer services teams,” said Aron Anderson, Director of Estimating of MasTec. “When this project arose, there was no doubt that we would engage Solectria again. We truly value their products and company as a whole.”

The 8MW solar system is located on a 45-acre parcel of land at MCCC and will save the college approximately $750,000 annually.

Patricia C. Donohue, MCCC President, said the solar farm moves MCCC forward on many fronts. “The solar farm will save critical dollars and enable us to restore to our budget many cuts in programs and services we have made over the past two years. It also helps us fulfill our sustainability goals. We have committed to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) with the goal of achieving carbon neutrality.”

The annual electricity produced from this project will provide 70% of the power needed to run the campus and is equivalent to:

9,010 metric tons of CO2
1,767 passenger vehicles greenhouse gas emissions
89 acres of forest preserved from deforestation of carbon sequestered
1,123 homes greenhouse gas emissions

“Being chosen by MasTec is an honor and we value our partnership with them,” said Bob Montanaro, Southeast Regional Sales Manager of Solectria Renewables. “We know that our inverters are the best choice for this 8MW project – they have been deployed across all of North America because of their reliability, bankability and highest return on investment (ROI).”

Source: Business Wire

On Rooftops, There Is A Growing Rival For Utility Companies

People have been installing solar panels on their rooftops to avoid paying utility companies for electricity. Utility companies are not pleased with that, and, for every person that does that (a full solar installation), that is one less paying customer for utility companies.

Rooftop Solar Panels. Image Credit: Joshua Lott/New York Times.

Rooftop Solar Panels.
Image Credit: Joshua Lott/New York Times.

According to NBC News: “Alarmed by what they say has become an existential threat to their business, utility companies are moving to roll back government incentives aimed at promoting solar energy and other renewable sources of power. At stake, the companies say, is nothing less than the future of the American electricity industry.”

I’ll tell you a bit about my experience with my solar panel. Apart from the empowering feeling you get by being able to generate electricity yourself, you will become accustomed to the reliability benefits as well.

I have been using my little solar panel to power various devices, and during power outages, which are frequent here in Jamaica, the solar panel is the one thing I can rely on to keep my cellphones charged at all times, and power isn’t always restored quickly either. Hurricanes cause continuous outages lasting from 1 to 4 weeks.

It requires no maintenance, no fuel, and costs nothing to operate. Prior to purchasing the panel, I would have had to sit outside with the car and waste expensive quantities of gasoline running the engine while the phones charged, as doing that with the engine off would run the risk of a failure to start it later.

Finally, a gasoline-powered generator would have cost me at least $200, while the solar panel was $43, and comes with no fuel cost.

Source: NBC News

Lawrence Livermore Engineering Team Breakthrough in Solar Energy Research

The use of plasmonic black metals could someday provide a pathway to more efficient photovoltaics (PV) — the use of solar panels containing photovoltaic solar cells — to improve solar energy harvesting, according to researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

Lawrence Livermore logo

The LLNL Materials Engineering Division (MED) research team has made breakthroughs experimenting with black metals. These nanostructured metals are designed to have low reflectivity and high absorption of visible and infrared light. The MED research team recently published their black metals research results in a cover-page article in the May issue of Applied Physics Letters titled “Plasmonic Black Metals in Resonant Nanocavities.”

Authored by MED physicist and research team member Mihail Bora, the article details the work of the Nanophotonics and Plasmonics research team led by LLNL Engineer Tiziana Bond.

It describes the team’s concept of black metals, which are not classic metals but can be thought of as an extension of the black silicon concept. When silicon is treated in a certain way, such as being roughened at the nanoscale level, it traps light by multiple reflections, increasing its solar absorption. This gives the silicon a black surface that’s able to better trap the full sun’s wavelength spectrum.

Similarly, black metals are produced by some sort of random nanostructuring — either in gold or silver — without guaranteeing a full, reliable and repeatable full solar absorption. However, Bond’s team developed a method to improve and control the absorption efficiency and basically turn the metals as black as they want, allowing them to increase, on demand, the absorption of a higher quantity of solar wavelengths. Her team built nanopillar structures that are trapping and absorbing all the relevant wavelengths of the entire solar spectrum.

“Our article was picked for the cover story of Applied Physics Letters because it represents cutting-edge work in the area of plasmonics, the broadband operation obtained with a clear design and its implication for the photovoltaic (PV) yield,” Bond said.

This new LLNL technology could one day be used in the energy harvesting industry such as PV. By incorporating metallic nanostructures with strong coupling of incident light, broad spectral and angular coverage, the LLNL team is providing a path for more efficient photovoltaics and thermovoltaics (a form of energy collection) by means of plasmon-exciton conversion, according to Bond and Bora.

Source: AAAS EurekAlert

Why Did You Think They Were Called “Heirloom Seeds”?

Since I happen to love heirloom tomatoes and grow only them in our garden, how could I resist such a solid piece of writing from Insteading?

Since I happen to love heirloom tomatoes and grow only them in our garden, how could I resist such a solid piece of writing from Insteading?

Why Did You Think They Were Called “Heirloom Seeds”? (via Insteading)

Most of us in the Western world get the majority of our food from the local grocery store.