The Solar Impulse on May 23 completed the longest leg of its 2013 Across America mission and set a new absolute world distance record in solar aviation, just another solar aviation record under its belt. The record: 1’541 km (832 NM). CleanTechnica posted a live feed of the flight.
22. Chinese Solar Subsidies Trade Dispute Keeps Rollin
Image Credit: China–US puzzle pieces via Shutterstock
Chinese solar subsidy trade disputes just keep going and going, with both sides (well, I think there are actually many sides) continuously publishing announcements expressing their points of view. The US Solar Energy Industries Association and the Asia PV Industry Association are trying to get things resolved in a positive manner, as are some European leaders.
23. Solar Shakeout Continues, Swallows Suntech
Graphs of industry shakeouts. These graphs are not ment to be completely exhaustive. There are likely manufacturers missing due to lack of available information and resources of the author. But they’re a good representation of the overall story. (Source: Keppler, 2001)
As the solar industry matures, many smaller solar players (and even some bigger ones) are falling by the wayside. The competition is just too steep, and there are “too many” companies in the marketplace. As one indication of that, the top 20 solar photovoltaic (PV) module suppliers accounted for almost 70% of global PV shipments in Q1’13. As another indication, Suntech, which once led the world in solar PV production, has gone bankrupt. Notably, the solar shakeout is actually a good thing — a sign that the market is maturing!
24. Distributed Solar Starts Scaring The Sh** Out Of Utilities
The falling costs and rising growth of distributed energy, especially solar, is on the verge of transforming utility systems. Aside from that link above, here are several more worth checking out:
25. Crowdfunding Solar Bursts Out Of The Box
Mosaic (formerly “Solar Mosaic”) has broken open the solar crowdfunding bucket. Here are a few of the most notable stories from the year on this front:
Beyond Solar Mosaic, here’s a fun crowdfunding story: Elementary School Students Crowdfund Their Own Solar-Powered Classroom
26. India Uses Coal Tax To Fund 750 MW Of Solar Power (4.4. GW Of Indian Solar Expected In 2013)
Reliance Industries’ 5 MW solar PV project at Khimsar, Rajasthan
Image Credit: Reliance Industries Limited, Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation Limited
“The Indian government is set to repose millions of dollars in financial support for solar power project developers from the coal tax corpus it has accumulated over the last few years. Project developers looking to set up projects under the second phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission will receive financial assistance over capital cost expenditure.”
Over one million solar PV systems are now installed in Australia. That’s pretty damn awesome.
The nation’s leading rooftop solar companies in May announced the formation of The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC). Founding members represent the majority of the US rooftop solar market and include SolarCity, Sungevity, Sunrun, and Verengo. TASC says it is “committed to protecting the choice for distributed solar.”
Most immediately, TASC will focus on ensuring the continuation of Net Energy Metering (NEM). Currently in place in 43 states, NEM provides solar consumers with fair credit for the energy they put back on the grid, which utilities then sell to other customers. In simple terms, NEM is like rollover minutes on your cell phone bill. Monopoly utilities are trying to eliminate NEM to halt the consumer-driven popularity of rooftop solar, which is helping create thousands of local jobs around the country.
29. Two California Cities Mandate Solar Power On All New Homes, And One Goes Even Further
Lancaster, California led the way when it announced in March a solar mandate on all new homes. The city aims to become the “solar capital” of the world. Sebastopol, another Californian city, followed up in May with a similar solar mandate, but it extended the mandate to new commercial buildings, as well!
Solar PV module prices have fallen 80% since 2008, and as you can see in the graph above, a ton more than that since 1977. They continue to fall, and are projected to for at least a couple more years. Even in rainy England (where solar power capacity could actually double in 2013).