Tucked away in this former tin-mining town, past the small farms of banana trees and oil palms, is one of the solar industry’s best-kept secrets. The six factories here with cavernous rooms up to one-third of a mile long constitute the production backbone of First Solar. Working alongside minivan-size robots adapted from car assembly plants and other industries, 3,700 employees produce five-sixths of the American company’s solar panels. Workers in Ohio make the rest.
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Vivint Solar (Lehi, Utah, US), provider of residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States, on December 12th, 2014 announced that it plans to open more than 20 new sales and operations offices in 2015.
Continuing its strong solar progress, North Carolina installed 95 megawatts (MW) of solar PV in Q3, more than all the solar installed in the state in 2010 and 2011 combined and enough to rank the state 3rd nationwide for added capacity, according to the new quarterly report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The Solar Market Insight Report found Q3 2014 represented a 172 percent increase over the previous quarter for North Carolina.
Demonstrating continued support for clean, renewable energy, residential solar installations in Colorado in Q3 were up more than 30 percent over the same period last year, according to the new quarterly report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
In another step forward for clean, renewable solar energy, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved raising the net energy metering (NEM) cap from 3 percent to 6 percent for all utilities. At the same meeting, the PSC announced plans to advance Community Shared Renewables, an innovative concept that could enable renters and millions of other New York energy consumers to go solar for the first time.
A bright future for the U.S. as more and more households adopt solar power.
When I visited the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, which sits in the Mojave Desert on the border between California and Nevada, I had to be careful where I looked. The engineers warned me not to look directly at the receivers arrayed on top of the centralized solar towers, which collected the desert sunlight concentrated by thousands of mirrors on the desert floor. The solar receiver was as bright as the heart of the sun, glowing with a retina-melting white. I had to force myself to look away.
Joy Hughes was living in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, a place with a “tremendous amount of solar potential,” so good that the valley’s residents were being overwhelmed by proposals for large-scale solar power plants. One had a “field of things like radar dishes” and another included a “600 foot tower.” The influx of outside companies seeking solar profit led Joy to ask, “Why not just set up solar arrays that can provide power for people in the local community and offset their electric bills?”
A solar-energy group is offering a plan to resolve a trade dispute between the U.S. and China, saying import duties currently in place are crippling the industry in both nations.
Old ideas die hard. The country has been debating renewable energy for decades—how much we should support it, what place it should have in our energy policy, how big an impact it actually has.