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Power companies in New England tapping residential batteries to reduce peak demand

Power companies in New England tapping residential batteries to reduce peak demand

Here’s the latest wrinkle in the battery boom: National Grid Plc is paying consumers to tap electricity from their power-storage systems.
Unraveling Accelerates for EU-China Solar Tariff Deal

Unraveling Accelerates for EU-China Solar Tariff Deal

A looming clampdown on Chinese solar panels in Europe is rapidly accelerating, with word that the EU will review part of a landmark 2013 agreement that initially helped to prevent a trade war but is showing rapid signs of unraveling. The case centers on the prices of Chinese solar panels, which are typically much lower than their western counterparts due […]
New Solar-cell Design Based On Dots and Wires

New Solar-cell Design Based On Dots and Wires

Using exotic particles called quantum dots as the basis for a photovoltaic cell is not a new idea, but attempts to make such devices have not yet achieved sufficiently high efficiency in converting sunlight to power. A new wrinkle added by a team of researchers at MIT — embedding the quantum dots within a forest of nanowires — promises to provide a significant boost.
Texas’ power market reaps the wind (and sun)

Texas’ power market reaps the wind (and sun)

By Liam Denning, Bloomberg The Texas power market is a gamble. Generators seeking the occasional windfall from price spikes weigh the odds on temperature, wind-speed, the economy and, crucially, how much capacity their rivals are starting up or shutting down. Regarding the latter, they get some guidance from the state grid operator every six months in the form of projections of how […]
Solyndra Lawsuit: War of the Solar Dead Solyndra

Solyndra Lawsuit: War of the Solar Dead Solyndra

The fight for survival among the world’s embattled solar panel makers is starting to look more like a battle of the dead, with word that bankrupt US player Solyndra is suing 3 of its biggest Chinese rivals over allegations of running an illegal cartel. Some of you might be saying: “Wait a minute, doesn’t Solyndra have better things to do than to be […]
On the Cutting Edge: Next Generation Materials in Turbine Blade Construction

On the Cutting Edge: Next Generation Materials in Turbine Blade Construction

As machines get ever larger and rotor diameters grow to match, wind turbine blade materials are evolving, with new designs, materials and manufacturing processes. Strength and lightness are the goals of materials scientists working in wind.
Tariff Decision Looms Large for Sale of SolarWorld

Tariff Decision Looms Large for Sale of SolarWorld

SolarWorld Americas Inc., one of two U.S. solar manufacturers asking President Donald Trump for tariffs on imported panels, says the move could revive a struggling industry. It may also boost the company’s value ahead of a potential sale.
New York’s ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ Just Got a Little Bit Clearer

New York’s ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ Just Got a Little Bit Clearer

Nearly a year ago, the New York Public Service Commission (Commission) initiated a groundbreaking effort, called ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ (REV), to overhaul the longstanding electric utility business model. In the months since starting the REV proceeding, the Commission has sought advice from Department of Public Service staff, industry stakeholders, and environmental non-profits, among others, quietly refining its vision while largely refraining from big pronouncements about the progress of the proceeding.
EU Roots Out China Solar Cheats in Malaysia, Taiwan

EU Roots Out China Solar Cheats in Malaysia, Taiwan

A recent offshore movement by Chinese solar panel makers seeking to avoid western anti-dumping tariffs could come to a sudden halt, with word the European Union (EU) is extending its previously announced punitive duties to Taiwan and Malaysia. The EU’s ruling means it believes that many of the offshore solar panel plants recently built by Chinese manufacturers are little more than shells designed to hide the true origin of their products. This story dates back 3 years, and began when the EU levied anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels after determining manufacturers were receiving unfair government support via policies like cheap land, low-interest loans and export rebates. Chinese manufacturers quickly agreed to raise their prices to levels comparable to those of western rivals in a bid to avoid the tariffs. But then they almost immediately began to violate the spirit of that agreement by offering discounts to buyers in other ways. The EU is in the process of investigating claims of such violations to that agreement, and this latest development involving panels made in Malaysia and Taiwan shows the EU is also attempting to stop another way the Chinese are avoiding the tariffs. The latest reports say the EU has officially said that all panels made in Malaysia and Taiwan will be subject to the same punitive tariffs as panels made in China. (EU document; English article) The document goes on to provide a long list of Malaysia- and Taiwan-based companies that will be exempted from the extension of anti-dumping tariffs originally set for China-made panels. But that list includes only truly domestic panel makers in those locations who have been in the business for a while, such as Motech (Taipei: 6244), E-Ton (Taipei: 3452) of Taiwan and Flextronics (Nasdaq: FLEX) in Malaysia. Two leading Chinese panel makers that had previously announced plans to manufacture in Malaysia at the height of the offshore movement include ReneSola (NYSE: SOL) and Jinko Solar (NYSE: JKS). Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL) also announced plans last year to develop 500 megawatts of solar panel-making capacity with a local partner in Malaysia, though it never named the partner. (company announcement)  In its announcement it said that the partnership would start manufacturing in late 2015 or early 2016. Shares Near Two-Year Lows It’s not clear how many, if any, of the Chinese solar panel makers I’ve mentioned will be directly affected by this ruling. Shares of Trina actually rose 3.6 percent during the latest session on Wall Street, though it’s worth noting they’re now trading near 2-year lows. Shares of Jinko Solar and ReneSola posted similar performances. This latest wrinkle in the China solar exporting story shouldn’t surprise anyone, and certainly doesn’t surprise me. Chinese companies have already shown they are quite capable of using backdoor tactics to avoid their earlier price-raising agreement with the EU. When that backdoor appeared to be closing, they simply tried another one by setting up these offshore shell factories. Such factories simply receive their China-made products, and then claim themselves as the country of origin before re-exporting them to Europe to avoid the anti-dumping tariffs. The US has taken a similar approach to Europe, levying anti-dumping tariffs against Chinese panels and now taking steps to close loopholes like these shell factories in Malaysia and Taiwan. There’s no indication that the anti-dumping duties will disappear anytime soon, especially as weaker Chinese players like Yingli (NYSE: YGE) show increasing signs of getting more and not less government support. The bottom line is that the status quo is likely to continue for at least the next few years, even as the US, EU and China start to phase out many of their government incentives for building solar power plants. That means many Chinese-made solar panels could ultimately get squeezed out of the US and Europe as loopholes close that were allowing a continued flow of such products even after original punitive tariffs were levied. Bottom line: The EU’s extension of punitive tariffs to China-made solar panels transshipped through shell factories in Malaysia and Taiwan could kill a recent wave of offshore factory construction by Chinese manufacturers. This article was originally published in Young's China Business Blog and was republished with permission.
Waiting for the Dough

Waiting for the Dough

The federal government's recent surge of support for energy storage in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) has been warmly welcomed by those in the storage community.