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SCFreshPickssolarchat_051112
May 11, 2012  | solarcurator  | 3 Comments

Solar media trifecta: social, mainstream, trade

Twitter solarized, rooftop boom, SoCal squabble, Alex goes to Jinchang

The use of social media is growing in the solar community, as individuals, companies and organizations take advantage of the enhanced outreach and information-sharing potential inherent in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like. In the case of Twitter, while the number of active solar Tweeters is growing—the Curator began Tweeting as @cheynman earlier this year, for example—it’s still modest compared to other verticals. One of the best solar efforts going on is the biweekly #SolarChat, run by the indefatigable Raina Brett Russo, CEO of EcoOutfitters. As moderator-curator of the solarized Twitter events, she not only promotes and proselytizes like crazy on the microblog, Raina also posts a handy recap of each chat on her company blog (also recommended). The latest #SolarChat, which took place May 9, focused on the benefits and challenges of net metering.

Solar power’s in the major daily newspapers again, as both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times have fresh stories on different aspects of the photovoltaic convergence. The NYT piece examines the boom in residential and small commercial installations, fueled by the advent of lease, PPA and other financing packages that let the home- or business owner put PV systems on the roof for little or nothing out of pocket. The balanced article doesn’t ignore some of the challenges facing the industry, but generally presents a fairly positive picture. Favorite quote comes from a New Jersey company named Roof Diagnostics that’s indicative of how the solar opportunity has transformed some firms:  “We turned a roofing company that did solar into a solar company that does roofing in support of solar,” Kelcy Pegler Jr. told the paper. “We’re (sic) really are a solar company now.”

The other Times addresses the other end of the project spectrum, with coverage of a bill going through the California legislature that will allow for the fast-tracking of the 663MW Calico Solar project under development by K Road Power in the Mojave Desert near Barstow. The move being considered is controversial, as it apparently would remove local authorities from the decision making process. The article reflects the wide divisions among environmentalists, politicians, developers, and others and suggests the final determination won’t be made for quite some time.

The Curator is always happy to see one of the solar trade magazines/websites do more than just repost or barely rewrite press releases and actually do some follow-up reporting and/or analysis. PV Magazine did just that with its second-day report on the news that Alex Solar (or Shanghai Alex Solar, which sounds more like the name of  a gunslinger or something) has signed a deal with the Jinchang City government to build 1GW of PV farms there along with a module factory to supply the massive installation. A company spokesman told the German publication that the module factory will have a 300MWp capacity and produce both multi- and monocrystalline-based panels. Work on both the factory and the power plants themselves is set to begin in Q3 of this year, although as the article points out, certain details as to partners and financing are yet to be worked out.

One piece of recent content that did not totally thrill the Curator, however, was a press release issued by the good people at Cogentrix Energy. While the news announced was welcome and exciting—the activation of the Alamosa Solar power plant in southern Colorado, which, at 30MW, is said to be the largest active concentrating photovoltaic installation yet—a crucial piece of information was lacking: the name of the company whose giant-waffle-on-a-stick CPV systems (OK, huge module arrays on a tracker) systems dot the 225-acre site–Amonix. Maybe there’s some sort of nondisclosure piece to the agreement between the indie power producer and its supplier (M.A. Mortensen, which built the plant, was mentioned though), but how about showing some respect (and recognition) where respect is due, especially given the world-record status of the project.

SOLARCHAT LOGO COURTESY OF ECO-OUTFITTERS


 
Sources: Eco-Outfitters, Twitter, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, PV magazine, Cogentrix

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