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The expansive solar value stream

One of the big-picture takeaways from the DOE SunShot Grand Challenge Summit was a reminder of just how expansive the solar value stream really is. From early-stage research in quantum dot solar cells waaaay upstream to programs developing low-cost, high-efficiency crystalline-silicon cell architectures all the way down the mighty river to awardee projects innovating balance-of-systems […]

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Concentrating solar power goes giga

The U.S. Department of Energy has researched and developed concentrating solar power since the 1980s, and those long-term efforts have borne fruit in recent years. Last week’s SunShot Grand Challenge Summit was replete with several threads of ongoing CSP programming and updates, which is no surprise since the focus area accounts for about 20% of […]

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Where solar soft costs rule

ANAHEIM, CA–The upbeat mood at this week’s SunShot Grand Challenge Summit was not a big surprise to those who’ve been tracking the U.S. Department of Energy’s solar initiative to drive costs down by 75% to 6 cents or less per kilowatt-hour by 2020. Although the aspirationally titled, innovation-focused program can’t take full credit for the […]

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A fresh Chinese solar outlook

The big SNEC trade show takes place in Shanghai this week, and the timing of the event coincides with fresh research and commentary about the world’s largest solar market. Then there’s the timing of one of the most unexpected breaking news stories in recent months, a tale which mixes cyber-espionage with solar. A U.S. grand […]

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Sunday solar spectacular

Waking up Tuesday to confirmed reports that the U.K. government may scrap its Renewable Obligation (RO) scheme for PV developments over 5MW in 2015–a policy that has been the chief driver of the kingdom’s recent utility-scale solar uprising– certainly wasn’t the best start to the day. Being a born and bred Englishman, the rapid rise […]

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Solar fault reduction

The prompt resolution of photovoltaic plant faults and incidents is one of the most critical functions of a solar operations and maintenance (O&M) program. Incidents can have an immediate impact, and depending on their frequency, they can be a stubborn obstacle to achieving the operational optimization of PV assets. Incident handling is thus a key […]

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A timely list of solar industry questions

Investor and analyst conferences abound during earnings season, and this spring is no different. One benefit of the uptick in activity is the corresponding release of research information on various industry sectors and the companies inhabiting those market segments. Although info is often geared toward the “buy-hold-sell” crowd, many useful nuggets can be gleaned that […]

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A solar #ThrowbackThursday

On most Thursdays, Twitter and Facebook are awash in #ThrowbackThursday posts. Old photos, news links, and other ephemera flow convivially through the social media channels. The trend extended into the solar community today, when Carter Lavin tweeted a question asking a small group of folks to recount their first gigs in solar. When I replied […]

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Could Suntech make the greatest comeback in solar?

While attending Intersolar EU in 2012, I met Zhengrong Shi, the now-former chairman of Suntech Power. Managing to track Shi down at what was Suntech’s event party was an accomplishment in itself, with the man seemingly swarmed on by eager solar industry professionals throughout the evening’s proceedings. Although the encounter was brief, he still found […]

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Tracking the Duck

(UPDATED/CORRECTED) Having installed 2.7GW of new PV capacity in 2013, California is moving faster than any other state–and any country except China, Japan, and Germany–in deploying solar energy to displace fossil-fuel electricity generation. However, the potential for disruption to the grid by high levels of solar generation has been illustrated by the now-infamous “Duck Curve” […]

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