Archive for March, 2012

New feed-in-tariffs regulations from 1st April 2012

It’s a fact: the new feed-in tariff will take effect from April 1, 2012. Next Sunday, the feed-in tariff rates for photovoltaic systems with a total installed capacity of 250 kW or less will fall, while a lower multi-installation tariff is introduced by the Government.

According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change website, that “multi-installation tariff applies to PV installations where the generator or nominated recipient for FITs already owns or receives FIT payments for more than 25 PV installations on different sites. Such installations will receive a tariff set at 80% of the level of the standard tariff.(more…)

Solar Energy in 3D

A group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new structure consisting in cubes or towers that extend solar cells upward in 3D configurations. Once tested, the researchers discovered that the solar cells in these new structures output more than twenty times the power they produce in a fix roof, even in cloudy days.

The biggest boosts in power were seen in the situations where improvements are most needed: 3D structures, the team reports, can gather slanting sunlight better than can flat panels in locations far from the equator, in winter months and on cloudier days. The new findings, based on both computer modeling and outdoor testing of real modules, have been published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.


Virtu, a solar panel that heats water and generates electricity


Virtu: The Energy Efficient Solar Panel

Virtu, the name given to a new a hybrid solar panel that simultaneously heats water and generates electricity.

The new technology integrates an electricity-generating PVC cell into a hot-water-generating solar thermal panel. Through combining the two technologies, the industry is now able to address one of the problems facing PVC cells :

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A quick view of Ecobuild 2012

Last week, Discover Solar team decided to visit 2012 Ecobuild exhibition, which ran from Tuesday to Thursday at the ExCel Centre in London, and know more about what’s next in the UK solar industry.

We took the opportunity to meet lots of people and companies, and talk with them about our thoughts on how and where UK solar market is headed in this next 2012. To those who couldn’t be there, here you have some of which, in our opinion, were the most important novelties:


Waxman Group launches an academy for solar installers in Elland, West Yorkshire.

The Waxman Group has invested over £100k in a new training academy that will offer a selection of courses designed for solar PV, solar thermal, water regulations, heat pump installation, unvented hot water, biomass and working from heights.

Waxman Training Academy, located at the company’s head office, features a lecture theatre-style classroom with audio visual projection facilities, a trouble-shooting test room and a scaffolding rig, mounted to multiple roofs on a house shell. (more…)

Gemasolar, a Solar Power Station that runs during the night

Gemasolar is the first commercial-scale plant in the world to apply central tower receiver and molten salt heat storage technology. This unique thermosolar power station stands out in Fuentes de Andalucia, in southern Spain, and it’s up and running since last May 2011.

From the road between Seville and Cordoba, one can see its central tower lit up like a beacon by 2,600 solar mirrors, each 120 square metres (28,500 square feet), that surround it in an immense 195-hectare circle. The relevance of this plant, which investment cost exceeds 200 million euros, lies in its technological uniqueness, since it opens up the way for new thermosolar electrical generation technology. With 2,650 heliostats on 185 hectares and a heat storage system which permits electrical generation for up to 15 hours without any solar feed, Gemasolar power station is expected to produce around 110 GWh per year.


US Solar industry increases its capacity more than 100%

2011 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report was published yesterday by the SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association) and GTM Research, bringing to light some good news: US solar industry more than doubles its capacity, soaring 109% in comparison with last year.

“The U.S. solar energy industry installed a record 1,855 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2011, more than doubling the previous annual record of 887 MW set in 2010, according to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight report. The record amount of solar installations is enough to power more than 370,000 homes, and represents a 109 percent growth rate in 2011. It is the first time the U.S. solar market has topped one gigawatt (1,000 MW) in a single year “, says SEIA. GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association have estimated that the U.S. solar market is valued in more than $8.4 billion in 2011.


Wadebridge, in Cornwall, is the Britain’s first solar powered town

Producing the 30% of the electricity from renewable resources by 2015, retaining the benefits locally and build a town model for other cities are the three main challenges of Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN). This social enterprise from Wadebridge and surroundings is carried out by volunteers with different professional backgrounds that decided to encourage their neighbors to establish a low carbon and renewable resources powered community, to be the first solar powered town in UK and also become a role model to other areas.


Unique Solar Roof Tile Launched

The New Solar Roof tile for UK Homes

Designed To Integrate with Existing Roof Tiles

Solarcentury has launched a new solar electric roof tile that has been designed to fit alongside plain roof tiles.
The solar tile is suitable and can be fitted alongside normal roof tiles from all manufacturers. The huge demand for solar panels has led to the development of integrating solar panels with original roof tiles.

The Feed-in tariff has boosted demand for solar significantly, and that is set to continue as energy prices rise. Many solar installers and roofing contractors have started to adopt this new tile, due to its design flexibility and integration with existing roofing structures.

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Is solar-sail technology a good alternative?

Solar sailing is, basically, a new way of travelling through the water, in a ship powered by wind and sunlight, depending on weather conditions. The sail is controlled by software and it’s operated automatically, tracking the sun for optimal solar and the wind for optimal sail power. Electricity created by the solar panels and stored in a battery powers the engine while the ships come in and out of the harbour. Once out in the open ocean and when more speed is needed, the diesel kicks in.

SolarSailor is a public unlisted company with offices in Australia, China and Hong Kong, which supplies patented SolarSail and Hybrid Marine technology, with applications on tankers, commercial ferries, private yachts and unmanned coast guard drones. (more…)