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Bottling the sun, YouTube style

Halfway between Reno and Las Vegas near the old mining town of Tonopah, one of the most advanced solar plants on the planet is poised to provide enough sun-juice to power more than 75,000 homes. The Crescent Dunes project is visually stunning, with a field of more than 10,000 heliostat mirrors reflecting the sun’s rays […]

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Intersolar North America 2014: A better tracker mousetrap

With more than a quarter-century in the solar biz, Dan Shugar doesn’t have to count his years of photovoltaic experience in dog years. But the ol’ dog does have a few new tricks up his sleeve. After a run as CEO of low-concentrator PV firm Solaria, the one-time president of pioneering solar integrator Powerlight now […]

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Concentrator photovoltaics tipping point?

Some 250 academics and technologists from 23 countries gathered in Albuquerque, NM, at the recent 10th International Conference on Concentrator Photovoltaic Systems (CPV-10) to discuss the state of CPV technology and deployment. Since its inception in 2002, the “CPV-x” conference series has operated as a nonprofit, with the aim of maintaining an intimate, collegial feel […]

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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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Agua Caliente state of mind

To call the Agua Caliente solar power plant “majestic” might be a stretch, but the sight of such a vast PV expanse does inspire more than a little awe. When I visited the construction site in September 2011, the project was well under way, with several dozen megawatts of First Solar cadmium telluride thin-film PV […]

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Rapid utility-scale solar deployment

Compared to the likes of most other First Solar utility-scale solar farms—many of which reach hundreds of megawatts in size–the 22MW (AC) Barilla Solar Project in colorfully named Pecos County is relatively small potatoes in scale. But the West Texas site stands out for one significant reason. As coverage in Solar Server and elsewhere has […]

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Another solar history lesson

Leave it to Paula Mints to school the photovoltaic community with a solar history lesson cum reality check. In her latest post at Renewable Energy World, the data-driven market researcher shares a fascinating look into the solar market since 2000, with a pie-chart-happy examination of the top PV module suppliers—and overall market sizes—during the period. […]

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Big tech loves solar

Do you know which über-brand owns the largest privately held solar farms in the United States? Hint: think crunchy fruit, mobile devices, and best-selling biographies of deceased geniuses. Yes, the answer is of course Apple, by virtue of its pair of 20MW ground-mounted PV systems located adjacent to the company’s data centers in North Carolina. […]

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Repeat solar customers

Since the sometimes vertiginous growth in the number of commercial solar installations is a relatively recent phenomenon, “repeat customers” are not something commonly seen outside the likes of Walmart, Kohls, and Ikea rocking photovoltaic arrays on their big-box rooftops. Solar Builder magazine has just announced its inaugural readers choice awards for solar projects of the […]

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Happy days for U.S. solar big dogs

Having the quarterly earnings releases from two of the big dogs of U.S. solar—SunPower and First Solar—on successive days provides an opportunity for some mix-and-match observations. That both companies pretty much killed it in their respective third quarters and each boast multigigawatt pipelines makes the rumination more fun and bodes well for the continued growth […]

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