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REC Panels Powering US Midwest's Largest Commercial Solar Rooftop


REC solar panels
REC Group has announced its Peak Energy solar panels were used for the largest commercial rooftop solar power system in the Midwestern United States. 
The recently commissioned 3.18 megawatt Rockville Solar II project in Indianapolis is powered by 12,264 260 watt REC Peak Energy Series solar panels.
The array is expected to generate 4.292 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, enough to supply the power needs of nearly 400 average U.S. households. The facility will avoid the equivalent of 2,722 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.
Developed, designed, and constructed by Melink Corp.; the system was installed on a 55,741 square metre rooftop of a warehouse owned by Equity Industrial Partners LLC. 
"Rockville Solar II is the fourth commercial project where we have installed REC panels," said Jeremy Chapman, general manager of Melink Solar. "On the basis of our ongoing relationship and the overall cost and performance benefits we’ve seen from using REC products, we look forward to continuing our partnership in the future."
REC says with the commercial solar sector in the USA growing at a double digit pace this year, it believes commercial solar has tremendous ongoing potential and will continue to be a strong component of its business.
REC solar panels are also a popular choice in Australian home and commercial solar installations. 
Commercial scale systems using REC modules include the NEXTDC data centre in Melbourne; which is Australia's largest privately funded system. Western Australia’s largest privately-owned rooftop solar power system, owned by Bidvest Foodservice, also features REC panels. Other local REC based arrays including University of Wollongong, Big Strawberry, Port Macquarie Library and Federation Square in Melbourne.
As well as the commercial sector, REC says it has enjoyed recent success in the US residential and utility segments; including significant supply deals with two of the nation's largest installers and an 85MW agreement with a major engineering, procurement and construction firm working on utility-scale projects. 


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South Australia Sets 50% Renewable Energy Target


South Australia Renewable Energy Target
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill announced on Tuesday the State Government will boost its Renewable Energy Target to 50 percent by 2025. 
"This new target of half the State's power to be generated by renewable sources will create jobs and drive capital investment and advanced manufacturing industries," said the Premier.
However, there is a catch. Premier Weatherill says South Australia will only be successful in its goal if the Federal Government leaves the national Target arrangements alone. The Premier said sovereign risk created by the RET review was putting the brakes on various projects.
"There are hundreds, if not thousands of SA jobs in the renewable energy sector - these are the growth areas we should be supporting, not undermining," stated the Premier (PDF).
South Australia hosts the nation's largest number of wind turbines and home solar power uptake in the state has also been strong. A 5kW solar power system installed in Adelaide can return a financial benefit of up to approximately $2,389 annually.
The possibility of even more jobs in the renewable energy sector is very welcome in South Australia, where jobs in other industries have been evaporating. To date, the RET has underpinned $5.5 billion expenditure in South Australia and could support a further $4.5 billion by 2025.
According to recent figures from the Australian Energy Market Operator, South Australia has likely already eclipsed its current 33 percent renewables target.
"We have demonstrated in South Australia is that, with the right policies and incentives, and with strong leadership and clear goals, even highly ambitious targets can be achieved and surpassed," said Premier Weatherill.
"Along with industry, we call on the Commonwealth to support the Federal Renewable Energy Target and follow the example that we are setting in this important area."
Thousands of solar supporters in South Australia and across the nation will also be sending a very clear "hands off" message to the government this Friday.


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Rockefellers Divesting Fossil Fuel Investments, Choosing Renewables


Rockefeller Foundation ditching fossil fuel investment
It probably says a lot when a foundation run by one of the world's richest oil families starts divesting from fossil fuel in order to invest in renewable energy.
In a move that will have many investors sit up and take notice, the ABC reports the Rockefeller family have joined in a pledge to divest more than $56 billion of fossil fuel investments to reinvest in clean energy.
"We are quite convinced that if he were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy," said heir Stephen Heintz  in relation to John D Rockefeller, who made his vast fortune from oil.
The pledge is part of a campaign run by Divest-Invest; which states:
"While moral accountability alone compels us to act, the financial case to divest and invest is no less compelling. There is a growing recognition that if we hope to maintain a livable climate, the majority of fossil fuel reserves now on the world’s books will become stranded, unusable assets."
Also on Tuesday, the UN's climate chief questioned whether the pursuit of coal is in Australia's best interests long term. The UN secretary-general's climate summit started on Tuesday, but it appears Prime Minister Tony Abbott will not be attending, even though he will be in New York on Wednesday.
The Abbott Government revealed its Energy Green Paper (PDF) on Tuesday. While Australia's Clean Energy Council cautiously welcomed the contribution to the discussion on the future of Australia's energy sector; RenewEconomy's Giles Parkinson pointed out that in the 78-page document, gas is mentioned 434 times, coal 100 times, nuclear on 67 occasions, storage racked up 32 mentions, solar saw 26, and wind energy just 13 mentions. 
"In short, this paper is everything it was expected to be – despite its supposed focus on the future, it is looking in the past rather, completely oblivious to global trends, technology costs and the rapid change in energy systems, not to mention the challenge of reducing emissions," says Mr. Parkinson.
The Australian Government's recent shunning of the country's renewable energy potential is certainly being noticed. In the latest (PDF) Ernst & Young Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index, Australia slipped a place in rankings. 


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Yingli Solar Panels To Power Largest Honduras Solar Farm


Yingli Solar
Yingli Solar has announced it will supply more than 24 megawatts of solar panels for the Pavana Solar Park, which will be the largest solar farm in Honduras. 
Located in the city of Choluteca in southern Honduras, the Pavana Solar power plant will feature close to 80,000 YGE 72 Cell Series modules. The facility is expected to be operational during the first quarter of next year and will generate approximately 40,000 megawatt-hours annually.
"We are thrilled to contribute to Honduras' largest solar project to date, which will help the country reach its goal of meeting sixty percent of domestic electricity demand with renewable resources by 2020," said Jeffrey Barnett, Vice President of International Sales of Yingli Green Energy Americas. "Thanks to a robust regulatory framework for renewable energy that includes net energy metering, a feed-in tariff, and tax incentives, Honduras is one of highest potential solar PV markets in Central America."
Honduras currently relies heavily on coal, diesel and gas powered electricity generation. More than half of its installed capacity is diesel based, making the country's energy sector particularly susceptible to oil shocks. PV uptake had been hampered by a combination of high equipment prices, lack of financing assistance and government support; all of which have recently changed.
Yingli says its strategy in Latin America is to invest in local operations and forge partnerships with the region's market leaders, including ENERBASA and Sybac Solar. Energia Basica S.A. ("ENERBASA") is the owner of the Pavana Solar Park and Sybac Solar will provide engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services.
Yingli Solar is the world's largest photovoltaic module manufacturer in terms of production capacity and shipments. The company has shipped more than 10,000 MW of PV modules to customers worldwide. Yingli Solar panels are a popular choice for home solar power systems in Australia.


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Home Solar Power System Still Cranking After 2 Decades


Autonomous House solar power system
The owner, installer and inverter manufacturer SMA are quite chuffed with the performance of this solar power system.
The Autonomous House, located in Southwell, Nottinghamshire in the UK, was the first privately owned system in the nation to export electricity to the mains grid.
Since July 27 1994, the solar panels have generated over 33 megawatt hours of electricity. A test recently run on the system showed the panels are producing nearly 80% of their overall original rated power; very close to the forecasted performance figure from the manufacturer.
The 2.16kW system featured 36x 60Wp polycrystalline modules and an SMA PV WR-1800 inverter; which was the first SMA solar inverter installed in the UK. The original solar inverter demonstrated an astounding service life and was only replaced 5 years ago with a Sunny Boy SB-2500.
Indicating how much pricing for solar equipment has dropped; this system cost £15,000 in 1994 - approximately AUD $27,500 at current exchange rates and without taking into account inflation. Today, a similar sized solar power system costs around $3,500 fully installed  in Australia.
While a great testimony to the durability of properly installed good quality components, kudos also goes to Wind And Sun for still being around to witness this important milestone - the company has been operating for 30 years.
The Autonomous House isn't the only old-timer array still cranking electricity. In 2012, we mentioned a Kyocera solar panel based system installed in 1992 that had lost very little of its efficiency since the day it was installed. There's also the 30 year old solar panel that was still functioning at the time we published.
It's stories like these that help further reassure owners of good quality and professionally installed systems that their investment will continue to provide returns for many years.


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US Gov. Funds Taller Wind Turbine Technology


Taller wind turbines
The U.S. Energy Department says new funding aimed at building wind turbines with hub heights up to 140 metres could unlock 1,800 gigawatts of new onshore wind energy across 380, 000 square-kilometres of the United States, an area about the size of Texas. 
Two organisations, Iowa State University and Massachusetts engineering firm Keystone Towers, will receive $2 million to advance technologies for harnessing stronger, more consistent wind speeds at these higher heights; reducing the cost of wind energy and increasing the locations where wind farms can be established.
"In the northeastern, southeastern, and western United States, winds near the ground are often slower and more turbulent, reducing the amount of electricity installed turbines can generate," says part of a Department statement.
"While wind turbines installed in 2013 had an average height of 260 feet (80 metres), the projects announced today will support new design and manufacturing techniques to produce towers nearly 400 feet (120 metres) tall."
Half the funding will go to Iowa State University’s Engineering Department to further their work on Hexcrete, a high-strength concrete that uses pre-cast, portable panels to build hexagon-shaped towers around a cement column. Such a system removes the logistical problems involved in transporting massive steel turbine components by truck from factory to wind farm.
"I think this will revolutionize wind energy," said Sri Sritharan, Iowa State University’s Wilson Engineering Professor in Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. "We won’t need to transport these big tubular towers on the highways and we’ll harvest energy where it’s needed." 
"If used for the entire height," Sritharan wrote in his project summary, "the Hexcrete concept will eliminate transportation challenges and engage a well-established U.S.-based precast concrete industry in the wind tower business, thereby greatly reducing reliance on foreign steel and increasing the job market in the U.S." 
Keystone Towers of Massachusetts will receive $1 million for an on-site spiral welding system that can be scaled up to produce much wider, lighter turbines and will enable turbine towers to be constructed nearby wind farm sites. The Energy Department believes this system could lower the cost of wind power by 10 per cent.

"Taller wind turbines capture the stronger, more consistent winds available at elevated heights, increasing the number of potential locations where wind farms can supply cost-effective power to American businesses and homeowners," the Department said.


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